Describing his experience as “very humbling,” Susan Moore Fire and Rescue’s assistant chief Wesley Cox, along with fellow firefighters from across the state, took part in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in Montgomery on Sept. 16.
Cox, who completed the 110 flights that symbolized the same climb many heroes made that tragic day, said he did it in honor of those firefighters who lost their lives trying to rescue others.
This is Cox’s first year participating in the annual event. He said he initially planned on doing some intensive training to better prepare for the climb, but unfortunately was not able to train as much as he wanted due to other obligations. Despite not being able to train as planned, he knew that if he did not participate in the stair climb he would regret it.
On Sept. 16, dressed in full turn-out gear, Cox and other firefighters began the journey to conquer the designated 110 flights of stairs at the RSA building in Montgomery. The plan was to complete five segments of 22 flights at a time.
After each of the first three segments, some of the firefighters would shed a piece of their equipment to help lighten their load. For the final 22 flights, the firefighters were once again dressed in full gear. Each firefighter also had a badge of at least one first responder who lost their life on 9/11. Cox was honored to carry the badges of firefighter William D. Lake and police officer Joseph M. Navas.
When asked what he thought about what the firefighters encountered that dreadful day, he said that those heroes didn’t have the option of removing gear or resting; time was of the essence. Once they reached the top, they had to begin full firefighter operations.
Susan Moore Fire and Rescue Service fire chief Jonathan Ledbetter said, “I am extremely proud of assistant chief Wesley Cox. This climb symbolizes the heroic efforts New York City firefighters made on Sept. 11, 2001. Three hundred forty-three firefighters lost their lives on 9/11 and countless more have perished from various diseases that were contracted as a result of being at ground zero that day.
“We’ll never forget, and this is the fire service’s way of remembering those who died that day and sacrificed everything. John 15:13 says, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ This Scripture is widely recognized in the fire service and I think it applies here.”