history of the 9/11 memorial stair climb event
The first known 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event occurred on September 11, 2003 during "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. Albuquerque Fire Department Lieutenant Charles Cogburn scaled a two story building 55 times wearing body armor, a helmet and an M-4. Lt. Cogburn returned home and on the following September 11th (2004) the climb was brought back to Albuquerque and given the title Albuquerque Firefighters Memorial Stair Climb. Firefighters from Engine 5 and Engine 2 were dispatched at 8:46am (the time the initial dispatch of FDNY units occured) to the Bank of Albuquerque Building in downtown Albuquerque. The building is 22 stories tall and it was climbed 5 times.
On September 11, 2005, five Colorado firefighters (who had already been climbing stairs together for fitness and camaraderie) gathered in downtown Denver to climb 110 flights of stairs in all their gear in memory of their FDNY (Fire Department of New York) brothers who were killed four years earlier.
The following year, organizers of the second Denver 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb changed their venue and attendance grew to twelve participants representing four fire departments from the metro Denver area. As word spread so did interest and the event expanded. In 2007, attendance reached several hundred participants, representing every part of Colorado. The following year, participation was capped at 343, the number of FDNY members who were killed on 9/11. The 2008 event also included a new remembrance component: each climber was assigned a badge, with the name and photograph of one of the fallen firefighters of 9/11, symbolically completing the climb with one who couldn’t.
In 2010 founders of the Denver 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb partnered with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) to set forth the national standard protocol for future 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs. The very first NFFF climb was the Nashville 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on September 11, 2010. Event organizers from Denver and Tennessee worked together with the NFFF to hold the first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event at a national fire conference at the 2011 Fire Departments Instructor Conference in Indianapolis, IN.
On September 11, 2011 fifty-five 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs occurred across the world (at least three were outside the US and held in Paris, London; Auckland, New Zealand; and Sydney, Australia).
On average, thirty climbs occur every year across the country. Visit our Other Climbs page to find links to the other events.