Waxahachie Fire-Rescue and other Ellis County fire departments on Wednesday morning were set to participate in the annual Dallas 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb marking the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

This is the ninth consecutive year that first responders from around the country gather to climb the Renaissance Tower twice, equaling the 110 stories of New York City’s World Trade Center to memorialize the lives lost during and after the attacks on the twin towers.

Fire departments from Midlothian, Ennis and Maypearl also participated in last year’s climb. Before the grueling ascent began, New York firefighter Christopher Howard spoke to the group about the importance of the day. Howard lost his father, George Howard, a Port Authority Police officer, in the attacks.

“Don’t just make Sept. 11 another day. Remember the courage and the bravery shown by so many,” Howard said. “Please make these stories that you pass along to others.”

Last year, Howard encouraged the crowd to learn about the responders who gave everything to save the lives of people around them.

During the attack on the World Trade Center, 343 firefighters, 70 law enforcement officers and nine medical personnel were killed. In total, nearly 3,000 died in attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on an airliner in Pennsylvania.

The Renaissance Tower is actually 54 stories tall, so climbers start their journey in the basement of the tower and climb a total of 55 stories to the top. Once they are rested, they return to the basement and make the ascent all over again to equal the 110 stories of the World Trade Center.

Each climber carries names of persons whose life was lost in the attack on a nametag around their neck. The tag also has photos of the deceased responder with a biography and what they left behind.

Upon reaching the top for the second time, the nametag is placed on a check-in board and the climber reads the name. A bell is then rung, signaling that the climber has reached the top.