by Lisa Tome
Across the nation, some firefighters spent at least part of September 11 remembering the 343 firefighters who died in New York in 2001.
In Colora, Kyle Burns marked the occasion alone - just himself and a Stairmaster.
Burns is a probationary volunteer firefighter with both the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun and Kingsville Fire Company in Baltimore County. He comes from a family of first responders - his parents Rob and Tammy, of Port Deposit, and older brother all work in public safety.
"It was a national tragedy," said Burns, who learned about September 11 in school. He also watches programming on the National Geographic Channel, related to the events of the day. He said his family members have discussed it. And on September 11, instructor Antonio Leonardi, where Burns is enrolled in the Fire Science program, discussed the events while he was in class at Cecil School of Technology. At Perryville High, Principal Justin Zimmerman also marked the day on the morning announcements. "He's (Zimmerman) done that every year that I've been there," said Burns.
And Burns, 16, wasn't born until four months after the tragic day. "I'm interested in it," he said.
His interest led him to do something for which he never prepared. "I saw on Facebook, it was just a random firefighter, had put on his gear and was walking doing the 9/11 challenge. He put on full gear and walked 110 flights of stairs," Burns said. So he decided to do the same with no planning or preparation. Instead of finding flights of stairs, Burns decided to use the Stairmaster at the gym where he is a member - BCF 24 in Colora.
"I saw the picture and I decided to give it a shot," he said. He also told his father his plan and said his father encouraged him.
Within a half hour, Burns was at the gym on the Stairmaster, wearing bunker pants, boots and coat, over his shorts and t-shirt. He also added an airpack - in all he was wearing almost 70 pounds of gear. "I didn't wear a mask (for SCBA) and I wasn't carrying tools or hose," he said. "I have an imaginative mind. I was able to put myself in that place (the Twin Towers)."
His undertaking got him noticed at the gym.
"I knew it would attract attention. But I did it for my 343 brothers who died. I wanted to pay tribute to them," he said. Gym staff gave Burns water and set up a fan while he was walking. During the last 10 flights, a fellow gym member joined him. He said people also thanked him and took photos. He said the facebook posts made him proud and happy. "Now that they've gotten to see it, maybe that will get them out to the fire department, the police department, or get them to give back to the community," he said.
"I've done it once and it was an accomplishment. I came here just to do it. I would definitely do it again for a tribute. If I would plan it out, I would do it again," he said. As a member of two fire companies, Burns knows the importance of training. "Sometimes you go 110 flights of stairs, sometimes you go two."
One day later, after photos of Burns doing the challenge were shared on Facebook by BCF 24 owner Mike Montgomery and many others, Burns talked about the experience. "My legs are a little sore. But I'm young and healthy. I'll be fine," said Burns.