Tower climb tribute to firefighters

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Firefighters commemorated the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York with a memorial climb up the BNZ Tower in Auckland’s CBD today that also remembered fireman Derek Lovell who died following the Tamahere blast of 2008.

About 60 North Island firefighters from as far north as Kamo and as far south as Upper Hutt took part in the event, the first of five to be held around the world today to remember fallen firefighters.

Firefighter Tony Scott said it was the death of his friend, Hamilton Senior Station Officer Derek Lovell, in the Tamahere Icepak coolstore fire that inspired him to set up the event last year.

“It’s a time to reflect and pay respect,” said Mr Scott who is based at Auckland Airport.

A list of the 50 firefighters who have died while serving since 1872 was read out before a prayer by the Dean of Auckland, Ross Bay.

Bagpipes then accompanied firefighters with Amazing Grace as they gathered in groups and adjusted their equipment.

Donned in full kit, including oxygen bottle and full face masks, the firefighters left in small groups to climb the 26 floors of the BNZ tower. At the top they were rewarded with a bottle of water.

Hamilton senior firefighter Blair Fothergill was to wear Mr Lovell’s tally, or dog tag.

Two Wellsford firefighters were also climbing in remembrance of two Cambridge firefighters killed in the line of duty. Jack Wilkin Morris and Irbvin James Heppinstall died in 1965 and 1964 respectively. Stuart Graham, also of Auckland Airport, were to wear the tags of Hamilton firefighters Herbert Graham and George Prince who died on duty in January 1921.

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