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Memorial climb honours firefighters

Yesterday, more than 200 firefighters gathered to climb the stairs of the Sky Tower in memory of firefighters lost in the World Trade Centre attacks, and those who have lost their lives in the line of duty in New Zealand since 1872.

March down Federal StreetThe Memorial Firefighter Climb sees firefighters from around New Zealand and the United States come together to remember, with the date of 9/11 chosen to coincide with the worst firefighter tragedy in recent history.

This is the third year that the memorial has been held at the Sky Tower and SKYCITY is proud to host the event, which is an extension of its long association with the New Zealand Fire Service.

“Over the past 13 years firefighters across New Zealand have helped nearly $6 million for our charity partner Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand through the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge.

The Memorial Climb allows us to pay our respects to those lost in a tragic world event and the many Kiwi firefighters who’ve lost their lives in the line of duty. It is also an important way that we can give back and honour our firefighters and the incredible work they do in our community every day and for our charity partner Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand,” says Matt Ballesty, Assistant General Manager, SKYCITY Auckland.  

The event personally honours each firefighter, with the names of the 343 firefighters from the New York Fire Department and all 59 names of New Zealand firefighters lost read out, followed by a prayer and powerful haka. Each firefighter carried a special tag with the name of an individual firefighter lost in the line of duty, dedicating their climb to the memory of that person.

2017 marked the 16th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and New Zealand firefighters were the first in the world to hold a memorial event on the day, with New York firefighters tuning in from the United States to watch a live stream of the New Zealand event at their local firehouses.

Two Chiefs from the New York Fire Department attended the event as representatives, Chief Peter Hayden and Steven San Filippo. Both played pivotal roles in the 9/11 response, with Chief Peter Hayden as first responder manning the FDNY’s command post in the North Tower. This was Batallion Chief Steven San Filippo’s third consecutive visit to attend the Memorial Firefighter Climb.

“If I can’t be in New York on 9/11, this is the place I’d want to be. It’s an honour for the FDNY to be recognised by firefighters from another country for the department’s efforts.” says San Filippo.

Chief Hayden (left) and Chief San Filippo, FDNY.

Tony Scott of the Auckland Airport Rescue Fire Service started the memorial climb following the 2009 cool store fire in Tamahere, Hamilton, where one Kiwi firefighters lost their life and several others were injured.

Tony was awarded an inaugural Pride of New Zealand Fundraising Award in 2014 and a Queen’s Service Medal for services to fire service and community in 2016. These awards recognise the time and dedication Tony gives to the community and charity through events like this and the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge held in May each year.

A live stream of the event was filmed by the New Zealand Fire Service and is shown below. 

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