Flint Hill firefighters climb in the name of 9/11 heroes

September 9, 2013 

— Special to the Fort Mill Times

Three hundred and forty-three people came together to climb 110 floors in memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

Volunteer firefighters from the Flint Hill Fire Department joined their Charlotte and New York comrades in the Charlotte Firefighters’ Association’s annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, held at Duke Energy Center in Charlotte Saturday.

More than 1,000 people cheered them on as each climber took to the steps in honor of a fallen firefighter.

Participants climbed a total of 110 floors to represent the height of each of the Twin Towers. The World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan were rammed by hijacked jetliners on Sept. 11, 2001. Nearly 3,000 people, including more than 340 firefighters and other first responders, were killed in the terrorist attacks.

Janet Davis, a former volunteer firefighter, said she was amazed by the amount of support the climbers received.

“People are so thankful we are doing this,” she said.

Davis of Fort Mill climbed in honor of Scott Davidson, who perished on Sept. 11 while working alongside his Brooklyn Ladder Company 118 comrades. He was in the south tower when it collapsed.

Davidson’s station sent Davis a station shirt and crest to wear on her helmet to honor his memory.

Davidson was 33 and had two children. This was Davis’ third year climbing in Davidson’s honor as part of Team 33, the Flint Hill Fire Department, which had eight members at Saturday’s climb.

Davis plans to continue to participate in the Climb in honor of Davidson’s memory as long as it’s held.

“We are not only climbing for the ones who died, but for the ones who lived and are living with it,” she said. “It takes everybody to keep [the firefighters’] memories alive.”

Davis knows firsthand how much firefighters risk every day. She was a volunteer firefighter with the Flint Hill Fire Department in the 1970s. When Davis could no longer volunteer, she convinced her husband to get involved with the department. Mike Davis has been with the Flint Hill Fire Department for 25 years and is now the chaplain and a lieutenant with the department.

“I was looking for a way to help the community,” he said. “Once you do it, you can’t get it out of your blood.”

Mike leads the honor guard during each Climb and cheers on his wife.

“I’m real proud of her for doing it,” Mike said. “It makes me proud to be a firefighter.”

The couple’s daughter, Melissa Garrison, also climbed this year.

Davis said Garrison does the Climb to honor not only the fallen firefighters and her father, but her husband as well. Garrison’s husband is also a volunteer fireman with the Flint Hill Fire Department.

“It hits home,” Davis said. “It could have been her husband.”

Many Climb participants also raise money for the national Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Last year, Davis raised $1,200 from local businesses.

This year, participants honored Rescue 5, whose entire crew perished during the 2001 attacks. The crew’s truck was at Saturday’s event.

Mike Davis said the department hopes to take the truck to schools in York County.

The Flint Hill Fire Department will also participate in the 32nd Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend this October in Emmitsburg, Md., where they will pay tribute to more than 100 firefighters who died in the line of duty last year.

Mike said he hopes people continue to remember the firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11.

“It was a horrible tragedy in our country,” he said. “It’s real important that we don’t forget that.”

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