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HANFORD — Every year, U.S. firefighters pay tribute to the first responders who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by climbing 110 flights of stairs, equivalent to the 110 stories of the World Trade Center.

Two Hanford firefighters, Connor Kurtz and Austin Hiatt, dedicated Wednesday morning to climbing 110 flights of stairs at the local Planet Fitness gym. They both wanted to pay tribute to the firefighters who died 18 years ago, they said. 

Hiatt, who joined the Hanford Fire Department in April, said the stair climb session was Kurtz's idea. 

"It was something he planned a couple days ago," Hiatt said. "I haven't done stair climbing before, so I thought it was a great way to pay tribute today."

Kurtz started at the Hanford Fire Department almost five years ago. There were a lot of other firefighters who wanted to complete the stair climb dedication Wednesday morning but couldn't make it because of other local ceremonies, he said.

"It was a cool opportunity to do something to represent people who made the ultimate sacrifice," Kurtz said. "It was definitely strenuous, so I can't imagine what they went through." 

Other Hanford firefighters completed 343 burpees to honor the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

Both Hiatt and Kurtz did the climb off duty, said Erik Brotemarkle, interim fire chief. 

"They called me yesterday asking if they could check out the gear for it," Brotemarkle said. "They wanted to do it in remembrance for the folks who only climbed one time."

The pair started at the gym around 7 a.m. on Wednesday and it took them less than an hour to complete all 110 flights. Both said they would do it again in a heartbeat. 

"It was definitely hard, but then you put yourself in the mindset for the day," Hiatt said. "You don't even realize how hard it is. But I said, if they could do it, I could do it too."

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