Forsyth firefighters honor 9/11 by continuing to serve, protect
Though different type of disaster, fire chief proud of duty

For most, Sept. 11 is a day of mourning — a day to remember those who were killed when al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes and committed the single deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil the nation has ever seen.

The mantra often heard is “never forget,” and though many of Monday’s ceremonies in Forsyth County, Georgia and Florida were overshadowed or cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, Forsyth County firefighters —and residents — were remembering the day in their own way.

“In the fire service, Sept. 11 has a particularly significant impact because we lost 343 brothers that day; it was the largest single loss of fire service personnel in U.S. history,” Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers said. “Since 2001, many more hundreds of firefighters have been killed, so it’s a day the fire service uses to not only remember the event and firefighters who were killed that day but all of the sacrifices our brothers and sisters have made over the years.

[Monday] was a demanding day locally for emergency services [due to the storm], and we still have troops in harm’s way, but it was an appropriate day for the fire service locally to be under duress and serving the public in one of their greatest times of need in recent memory.
Jason Shivers, division chief, Forsyth County Fire Department

From noon on Monday, Sept. 11 to noon on Tuesday, Sept. 12, fire personnel responded to 210 emergency requests across the county, from downed trees to power outages to damaged cars.

Shivers said that was exactly how the day should have gone.

“As firefighters, we don’t mourn in a traditional sense,” he said. “Our mourning is in a way of service. We work every single day to train, train some more and then train even more after that because training is life and we will never stop training for the mission at hand.

“That is exactly how the fire service remembers those lost, and I see no better way for yesterday’s [service] to have unfolded.”

All through that and every other day, Shivers said a piece of one of the World Trade Center’s towers — an I-beam — sits in the entrance to the Forsyth County Public Safety Complex to forever honor the men and women who lost their lives in the attacks.

“We’re 16 years removed from that day; there’s a whole generation that wasn’t alive when the attacks occurred,” he said. “It’s very important to us as a fire service that this generation doesn’t have a gap in their history, and we are still fighting a war because of that single day.

That beam, which is supposed to be touched, is there to ensure we don’t forget and to pass on the history of that day to our youth.
Jason Shivers, division chief, Forsyth County Fire Department

NYPD’s fire chief has the first part of the beam, Fire Chief Danny Bowman said.

Over the years, the Forsyth County Fire Department has lost three in the line of duty, all of whom were also remembered Monday.

“We didn’t close the Emergency Operations Center until around 1 a.m.,” Bowman said, “but what more meaningful of a day could you have had than serving the public on Sept. 11?”