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New York firefighters to join Kiwis

New York firefighters to join Kiwis for Sky Tower memorial climb on 9/11

Two prominent New York firefighters, who were part of the emergency response team for the World Trade Centre attack, will be joined by more than 170 firefighters to take part in a Memorial Firefighter Stair Climb at SKYCITY on Friday 11 September.

The climb is in remembrance of all firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty, with 9/11 being the most significant day world-wide for those working in the fire service, when the New York Fire Department lost 343 firefighters. The names of 56 Kiwi firefighters lost in the line of duty will also be read out as the participants get ready to climb the stairs of the Sky Tower for the memorial.

Firefighters Robert J Strong and Steven San Filippo played key roles in search and rescue operations at ‘Ground Zero’, and are in New Zealand to share their experiences with local emergency response teams.

Event organiser and firefighter, Tony Scott, from Auckland Airport Rescue Fire Service says he started the memorial climb following the 2009 coolstore fire in Tamihere, Hamilton, where several firefighters lost their lives. This is the first time the event has been held at the Sky Tower.

“To have these firefighters from one of the most challenging emergency response operations of our time here sharing their experience is incredible; we’re honoured to be climbing the Sky Tower alongside these men.”

Mr Scott has been working with SKYCITY Auckland since the first Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge, an annual event to raise funds for Leukaemia Blood Cancer NZ. This year the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge raised more than $1 million for the charity.

SKYCITY Auckland Assistant General Manager Matthew Ballesty says SKYCITY has had a long association with the New Zealand Fire Service, having supported the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge for 12 years.

“The Sky Tower is such an iconic symbol for Auckland, as was the World Trade Centre for New York. It’s a great privilege to welcome these firefighters to Auckland and take time to acknowledge the essential service firefighters provide to communities world-wide.”

United States Ambassador to New Zealand, Mark Gilbert, says the fire service has a strong sense of camaraderie worldwide.

"The memorial climb is a meaningful way to remember the victims, and to honour the heroes who responded that day and every day," says the Ambassador.

The visiting New York firefighters were sponsored by the United States Embassy.


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