New Zealand firefighters mark anniversary of September 11 attacks with Sky Tower stair climb

US Ambassador to New Zealand Mark Gilbert and US firefighter Kelly Melton at the event honouring American firefighters killed in the World Trade Centre in 2001. Photo / Twitter
US Ambassador to New Zealand Mark Gilbert and US firefighter Kelly Melton at the event honouring American firefighters killed in the World Trade Centre in 2001. Photo / Twitter

New Zealand firefighters have been the first in the world to hold a memorial to mark the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

This afternoon, more than 160 clambered up the stairs of Auckland's Sky Tower in memory of their American colleagues killed in the World Trade Centre in 2001.

Before the Memorial Firefighter Stair Climb, the names of all 343 firefighters from the New York Fire Department who died were read out.

The names of the 57 New Zealand firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty were also recited.

Each firefighter carried a special tag with the name of an individual firefighter, dedicating their climb to their memory.

The event was created after the 2009 Tamahere cool store fire, which killed Hamilton firefighter Derek Lovell and seriously injured seven other firemen.

Before undertaking the climb himself, organiser Tony Scott from the Auckland Airport Rescue Fire Service said he was feeling lost for words.

"I've made two trips to New York and I've made a lot of friends over there and know how much they hold these guys to their hearts."

Phil Irwin from the Glenbrook Industrial Fire Brigade said taking part in the climb was a great honour.

Firefighters take part in the memorial Sky Tower stair climb to remember the fire service men and women who lost their lives in the September 11 terror attacks. Photo / Twitter
Firefighters take part in the memorial Sky Tower stair climb to remember the fire service men and women who lost their lives in the September 11 terror attacks. Photo / Twitter

"To not only go up the tower for the New Zealand firefighters, but also for our brothers in America."

New York firefighter Battalion Chief Steven San Filippo, who played a key role in the rescue operations at Ground Zero, was a guest at the commemorative climb.

He said it was important never to forget.

"This spreads the word of the tremendous effort that the New York City firefighters made on 9-11, 2001.

"They were protecting life and property in the city of New York. And you know what? Any department anywhere in the world would have done the same thing."

New York firefighters watched a live stream of the memorial at their local firehouses.

"Back home in New York right now on September 11 it'll be a very solemn day in every fire house in the city, remembering the members who passed away and remembering their families," San Filippo said.

- Newstalk ZB

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