Las Vegas firefighters mark 9/11 with stair climb

Las Vegas firefighter Gregg Burns found new life for an American flag he received in a Sunday morning parade marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He stuck it to his helmet for his 108-story climb a couple of hours later up the Stratosphere tower on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Around his neck, the 49-year-old bore the names of New York firefighters Thomas Gambino Jr. and Stephen E. Belson, who perished in the collapse of the 110-story World Trade Center towers.

"Bottom line, this is for them," Burns said, sweating in his heavy turnout coat as he and 290 other Southern Nevada firefighters and police officers prepared to ascend the tallest building in Las Vegas in memory of the 343 firefighters and 60 police officers who died climbing the tallest buildings in New York City a decade ago.

"This is nothing like what those guys went through," Burns said. "People need to be reminded."

North Las Vegas firefighter and paramedic Chad Reyes, 28, clipped into his usual 50 pounds of protective gear for the 20-plus-minute trek up the 1,149-foot Stratosphere tower. He also bore a memorial photo of New York City firefighter Ronnie L. Henderson.

As he waited to join the procession up the stairs, Clark County firefighter Jon Fleischman, 39, remembered watching, stunned, as the television at his fire station showed the collapse of the 1,362- and 1,368-foot Trade Center towers.

"When those towers fell, my first thought was, ‘How many firefighters just died?’ " Fleischman said. "This is tough. It’s hard to do. But that’s what they did."

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