BY HAILEY MINTON
Roy firefighters reflect on how the terrorist attack changed America and how we have changed since.
In years past, the Roy Fire Department and Police Department have done a 9/11 memorial in front of Station 31 on 1900 W. They always start at 6:46 a.m., the time when the first plane struck the first tower (everyone is invited, by the way). But this year, they and other organizations are doing that and more, since it is the 20-year anniversary of the attack. Jake Rast is the Battalion Chief from the Roy department, and he is helping to bring all the fire departments in Weber County together for the Weber Remembers 9/11 Event.
Jake was in high school on the day of the attack. He was young, but he remembers how it made him feel. “I can remember that day like it was yesterday. It brought our nation together.” He wants to honor all those who died, along with those who helped amid the devastation. Firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, search-dog teams looking for survivors; they all stepped forward to help their neighbor.
“I’m very patriotic,” said Jake. “I have a flag at my house year round.” He explained his patriotism stems from being surrounded by people who are willing to help others. “I think there are many great people around us.” Personally, my world exists with the people I interact with on a regular basis, and it’s certainly not the same as Jake. My circle doesn’t include those people as much as it does him. Just because we aren’t aware of the good that’s happening around us doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. “Roy is a great place.” He said, “There are a lot of great people in Roy. The firefighters love to serve the citizens. We just do whatever we can to serve to the best of our abilities.”
Some of the other Roy firefighters reflected on the attack and what has transpired since. Ryan Law had nearly finished getting his certifications to become a firefighter when it happened. “There were a few people I knew from that class who quit right there after watching. I don’t know if it was family pressure or they were just scared.” When he later applied for the Roy Fire Department, he tested against 400 people for five part-time jobs. “There were a lot of people who wanted to be firefighters, along with the people who had been out of it for a while but still had their certifications. People just wanted to serve somehow. This was the one time where it didn’t matter if you were Republican or Democrat, everyone was on the same page. We all came together.”
Kasey Adams said, “It didn’t matter who you were. We were all Americans. It lasted for a little while after, but then we started becoming divided.” He was in 5th grade when it happened. Later, he went through Paramedic School with the Battalion Chief from Salt Lake City, who helped at Ground Zero. Kasey explained that a lot of first responders, including the Battalion Chief who taught him, are now sick and feeling the effects of being exposed to the pile. The Ground Zero dust was a cloud of carcinogens – soot, benzene, pulverized cement, asbestos, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins. There have been many cases of young, healthy workers developing cancer seemingly out of the blue. Michael Thun, director of epidemiological research at the American Cancer Society, along with other cancer experts, argue that the cancer incidence among monitored individuals who helped at Ground Zero cannot be called a coincidence.
“A lot of people have been dying from weird cancers who helped out that day,” said Shane Erisoty. “That has caused us to look into cancer prevention.” Both Kasey and Shane wished there was more that could be done to help those feeling the effects of that exposure. In 2018, the U.S. Fire Administration rewrote a document on the Safety and Health Considerations for the Design of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Stations. The idea is to keep equipment and gear that has been exposed to carcinogens separate from the living quarters of the firefighters.
Another change that came in the aftermath of the attack was the nationally standardized communication system. Shane Said, “I guess they had a lot of issues when people from New York and New Jersey and all sorts of different departments used their weird 10 codes. Nobody could communicate well together…Instead of saying ‘we’re 1020 or 1034,’ we use plain English now.” On the East Coast, fire departments across state lines work together regularly, but here in Utah, fire departments work mostly with the neighboring departments in the state. Regardless, being able to communicate with other departments is clearly essential.
What happened that day rocked America and seemed to evoke empathy in us as a nation. 9/11 Day is an organization that was formed after the attack, and they turned the anniversary into a national day of service. Cindy McGinty lost her husband in the attack and said, “We can’t bring our loved ones back. But perhaps in tribute, we can work to rekindle the spirit of unity that arose in the aftermath of the attacks.” If you want to take action, visit serve911.org for details about participating in a local food drive, blood drive, 5k or 2k race fundraiser, or a service project.
Weber Remembers 9/11 Project
A great way to remember what happened that day is to attend the Weber Remembers 9/11 Project at the Weber County Fairgrounds. All the events are free! The exhibit is an interactive museum experience which uses 304 photo boards that were created to help visitors walk back in time. The time frame covers the late 1990s through the day of the terrorist attack and then into the response recovery time period.
There will be 19 television screens showing different media coverage and videos and 30 different areas of directional sound. The North parking lot will have an exhibit of emergency and military vehicles, where you can take pictures and talk with the professionals.
Live local entertainers will be featured on a stage at the west end of one of the exhibit halls. They need 400 volunteers over the course of the three days, so if you’re interested in helping, visit majorbrenttaylor.com.
Sept. 9th & 10th
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.: 9/11 Exhibit Field Trips @ Weber County Fair Grounds
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Fairgrounds Exhibit Free & Open to the Public @ Weber County Fairgrounds. This includes the 9/11 Project Immersive Museum, community service exhibitors, “Touch a Truck” parking lot exhibit, and live entertainment.
6:46 a.m.: Early Morning Fire Memorials
@ Roy Fire Station No. 31
@ Riverdale Fire Station No. 41
@ Weber Fire Station No. 61 in Farr West
10 a.m.: Fairgrounds Exhibit Free & Open to the Public @ Weber County Fairgrounds. This includes the 9/11 Project Immersive Museum, community service exhibitors, “Touch a Truck” parking lot exhibit, and live entertainment.
Fire Ride Motorcycle Ride @ Salt Lake City to the Ogden Amphitheater fallenfirefightermemorial.org
12 p.m.: Firefighter Memorial Ceremony @ America’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park Next to the Ogden Amphitheater
8 p.m.: Fairground Exhibit Closes