When there’s a fire, most people run out while firefighters are running in. Ten years ago, on Sept. 11, 343 New York City firefighters and 80 police officers ran into the Twin Towers and did not come out.
To honor their memory, Dunwoody firefighters are sponsoring the Dunwoody Manhattan Memorial Climb on Saturday, Sept. 10, a stair climb of the 26 floors at the Manhattan Condominiums on Olde Perimeter Way at Perimeter Place.
The idea for the climb came to FAO (Fire Apparatus Operator) Patrick Lindstrom, a firefighter who drives the quint (the fire truck), as a result of his transfer to Dunwoody Station #21 three years ago after 18 years of service in Clarkston.
“Fire fighting is horizontal in Clarkston,” he said. “When I got to Dunwoody, everything was vertical.”
To get in shape for his new assignment, he started climbing the stairs at the Manhattan. One day during his descent, his daily time of reflection, he thought of a memorial stair climb as a meaningful way to pay tribute to his fallen New York comrades.
“I get in the stairwell, and I think of those guys,” he said. “It’s called the Manhattan. We couldn’t go anywhere else.”
Officially sponsored by DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, the stair climb is about the present as well as the past. Each participant’s $25 registration fee will be donated to the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation to help burn victims and their families on their road to recovery.
While the climb is not a race, Lindstrom’s station, located on Crown Pointe Parkway, has challenged the two other Dunwoody stations to have 100 percent participation. So far, only #18, located on Barclay Drive near Peachtree Middle School, has come forth.
Firefighters will make the climb in full turnout gear. FAO Christopher Holcomb, of Station #18, will wear his turnout gear and also carry his 20-pound toddler on his back.
“The guys in New York were wearing all their gear and climbed four times as far,” he said. “This is the least I can do.”
The climb will begin at 8 am on Saturday, Sept. 10, with opening ceremonies. Capt. Matt Robison, of Station #21, will sing “God Bless America.” A senior from Fannin County High School, in Blue Ridge, where Lindstrom lives, will sing the National Anthem. A local Boy Scout troop will present colors.
Corporate, retail and church supporters have signed up to provide food, drink and mementoes for the climbers. Everyone who shows up will receive a commemorative armband. Everyone who pre-registers will get a commemorative T-shirt.
“It doesn’t matter how far you climb,” said Lindstrom. “If you can’t climb a single stair, you can be an honorary climber and still get a shirt.”
Civilians will climb alongside firefighters and at least one Dunwoody city councilman in a well-ventilated stairwell. The climb will take most people no more than 30 minutes.
Anyone wishing to participate should register at the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation website at www.gfbf.org.