Alabaster firemen remember fallen brothers

As Alabaster Fire Department Lt. Ched Burton and his fellow firefighters worked to wash and detail one of the department’s fire engines on Sept. 11, 2001, the station received a call none of them would ever forget.

After answering the phone and learning of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in New York and Washington, D.C., the city’s firefighters asked the chief if they could ignore one of the station’s rules for the day.

“At the time, our chief was very adamant about not having the TV on in the station,” Burton said. “But after we heard about the attacks, he let us turn it on and watch what was happening.

“We turned it on right as the second plane hit,” Burton added. “It was just a surreal day.”

Alabaster firefighters will join fire departments across the nation Saturday as they remember the ninth anniversary of one of the nation’s deadliest events.

Each week, the Alabaster Fire Department participates in weeklong training classes, which usually cover various rescue and firefighting tactics.

But from Sept. 6-13, the weekly training classes will feature a look back at the actions of the New York Fire Department, and photos of each of the firefighters who lost their lives in the attack.

“This week, the training was focused on remembering those who died that day,” Burton said. “As firefighters, we look at that event and we realize that those firefighters knew someone was going to die that day.

“But they ran in there anyway. There were pieces of the building falling to the ground, and people jumping out of the windows,” Burton said. “I think most of the firefighters knew what they were getting into when they entered that building.”

When the Alabaster firefighters were watching footage of the terrorist attacks, they immediately understood the courage it took for a firefighter to enter a potentially deadly situation.

“In our own small-town way, we were able to realize what they were going through,” Burton said. “I am able to remember exactly what I was doing and the clothes I was wearing when the attacks happened.

“Like our grandparents remember Pearl Harbor or the Hindenburg crash, I think I will remember it forever. It’s something I will never forget,” Burton added.