A crowd of residents and first responders gathered outside Central Fire Station in Frisco on Wednesday morning, the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Like many cities across the country, Frisco hosted its annual remembrance ceremony to remind people of the sacrifices that first responders made that day.
There were 2,997 people who died from the attacks at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon and a thwarted attack in which a plane crashed into a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Among the first responders who died trying to rescue people from the World Trade Center towers were 343 firefighters, 23 police officers and 37 officers of the Port Authority.
“We don’t want to forget the first responders who were lost on 9/11,” said Frisco Fire Chief Mark Piland. “We made a vow we would never forget.”
He said as a result of the first responders’ actions rescued 87 percent of the 17,400 people who were in the towers that day.
But as Piland spoke to the crowd Wednesday, he urged them to also remember the first responders who survived that day but experienced health issues related to their exposure of dust and debris at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“We remember the ones we lost on Sept. 11, and we should,” Piland said. “But we’re approaching the number where we have more firefighters dying from cancer and respiratory illnesses than those who we lost at the World Trade Center.”
Piland said there have been 202 firefighters who have died because of health issues related to their response at the World Trade Center. In addition, he said there have been 241 police officers who have died from it, surpassing the number of officers who died at the scene.
“And that’s just the World Trade Center,” Piland said. “I was at the Pentagon, and there are a lot of others who were there who are suffering from illnesses as well.”
Interim Police Chief Greg Ward said it’s also important to remember first responders who have died in the line of duty outside of 9/11. He said across the country in the last 10 years more than 1,500 officers have died in the line of duty, including 158 in 2018. So far this year, he said, there have been 60 officers killed in the line of duty.
He noted the two members of the Frisco Police Department who have died in the line of duty – Officer Joe Preston Murphy in 1968 and Cadet Christopher Murray in 2016.
“It’s been 18 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,” Ward said. “And we’re here to pay tribute to all of those who have paid the ultimate price serving the community.”
Piland said as the years go on, it’s important to keep the first responders’ actions on 9/11 at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“Police and fire departments will be hiring members in the next several years that were not alive Sept. 11,” Piland said. “These young, promising members must be taught what happened that day.”
Piland said there are two signs that hang in the stairwell towers at Frisco’s public safety training center. One sign shows the time the south tower at the World Trade Center collapsed, and the other shows the time the north tower collapsed.
“These signs are a reminder of what happened on that fateful day and provide a permanent reminder for current and future firefighters that we will never forget,” Piland said.