By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – As remembrance ceremonies for the victims of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 happened all around the country, there was one in Denver that gathered firefighters from around the nation to remember their fallen brothers and sisters. Denver 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb was the first of its kind in the country.

Three hundred and forty-three firefighters climbed 110 stories, the height of the World Trade Center, while each carrying a photo of one of the FDNY members killed on 9/11.

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(credit: CBS)

One of the firefighters climbing Saturday was Assistant Chief Jacob Black of the Santa Fe County Fire Department. He says he was in high school when the attacks happened. He remembers the fear everyone had but also how he felt a calling.

“I knew from that moment on things were going to be different. I knew I had a role in serving my community,” he said.

Black says the event is a stark reminder that being a firefighter is noble but dangerous career.

“That could happen to any one of our team members,” he said. “I can’t even imagine that happening.”

Firefighter CiCi Cordova, also from Santa Fe County Fire, says the risk to your life and health is one of things you know when you accept the job, but it doesn’t make it easier to hear about firefighters losing their lives.

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“This is what we do. We signed up for this,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

The building they climbed is only 54 stories so to reach one 110, teams had to start in the loading dock and climb 1801 California twice.

When the teams from Santa Fe County finished their second ascent, they say the learned that to be successful in the face of adversity they need to rely on each other.

“We worked as a team. Even departments we don’t know we worked with,” said Cordova.

Her chief, Jacob Black agrees saying whether it’s management or workers, everyone is on the same team.

“We all have the same mission,” he said. “We all want to serve our customers well.”

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The stair climb isn’t a race, it is a fundraiser. It has raised millions of dollars for the FDNY Counseling Services Unit since they began doing it 17 years ago.

Michael Abeyta