Two Bream Bay firefighters flew to New York this week to climb 80 floors to the top of 3 World Trade Centre.
Ruakaka Volunteer Fire Brigade’s Darrell Trigg and Paul Austin of Refinery NZ Marsden 22 Brigade are among 400 first responders from around the world taking part in the July 1 New York City Memorial Stair Climb in memory of the 23 New York policemen, 37 Port Authority policemen and 343 New York firefighters who died on September 11, 2001 in New York after terrorists flew aircraft into the World Trade Centre twin towers.
Each climber carries the tag from a fallen first responder with them to the top of the building. This year Trigg will carry the tag of Tarel Coleman, a 32-year-old father of two from FDNY Squad 252 and Austin has the tag of Gregg Atlas, a 44-year-old father of two from FDNY Engine 10. “Engine 10 members were the first on site, because their station was just across the street,” said Austin. “A broker met Gregg in the stairwell, Gregg helped him carry some stuff down and then went back in. He was never seen again.”
Climber numbers are limited to match the number of fallen first responders. Trigg, who made the climb last year at 4 World Trade Centre, says some New York firefighters didn’t show up, so other climbers made the trip two or even three times to get every tag to the top. “It’s a pretty special event,” said Trigg. “There are stair climbs all over the world now, but this is the original. You’re at the place where it happened.” Last year Trigg visited the station of the firefighter whose tag he carried, Matt Barnes of Ladder 25. “There were seven on his shift, and none of them came home. It’s quite eerie when you think about it.”
Trigg, fully recovered from the knee problem which gave him issues during May’s Auckland Sky Tower climb, hopes to finish the climb in around 25 minutes. Austin also faced a hiccup with his preparation – he usually climbs in gumboots and as a volunteer firefighter, didn’t have the level one lace-up fireboots required for the New York climb. “I managed to buy some today,” he said from the airport just before flying out. “I had them delivered en route to the airport.” Both Trigg and Austin are looking forward to the event. “The whole memorial side of it will be quite moving,” said Austin.
Both men have support crews accompanying them – Darrell’s wife Marlene is making the trip to watch him climb, and Austin is taking his father Noel and son Matthew. The climb is a fundraiser for the Ray Pfeifer Foundation which assists people affected by 9/11. If you would like to donate in either of the Bream Bay Firefighter’s names, visit www.nystairclimb.com.