Pelham firefighters mourning, honoring lost colleagues

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

For Pelham Fire Department Chief Danny Ray, Sept. 11 each year comes with a mix of joy for his family and sadness for his firefighter brothers who lost their lives nine years ago.

“September 11 always has a double meaning for me,” Ray said. “It’s my wife’s birthday, but it’s also the day that the attacks happened.

“Every year, it’s significant to me for both reasons,” Ray added.

Ray and other members of the Pelham Fire Department will join local residents from 8-10 a.m. Sept. 11 at the Applebee’s restaurant on Alabama 119 in Pelham to honor the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

During the breakfast, Applebee’s will provide members of the Pelham Fire Department a free breakfast, and will donate all proceeds from the event to The Firehouse Shelter in Birmingham.

The Firehouse Shelter offers housing and programs to help hundreds of Birmingham’s homeless every day.

“We are going to have volunteers from The Firehouse Shelter here to serve food and help out that morning,” said Applebee’s Manager Jason Batko. “The shelter gave us a call and asked us if we would partner with them for the event, and we were glad to help out.

“We like to do things to help give back to the community,” Batko added.

During the two-hour event, Applebee’s will serve a $5-per-ticket pancake and sausage breakfast, and the Pelham Fire Department will have a fire truck on site for public viewing.

“We are going to bring one of our engine companies to stand by and represent the firefighter organization for the whole community,” said Pelham Fire Department Division Chief David McCurry. “We are representing all firefighters in the community and across the country, not just in Pelham.”

For McCurry, Ray and other members of the Pelham Fire Department, Sept. 11 has become a special day of reverence and reflection.

“It’s a very special day. It’s a tragedy across the country to hear about a firefighter losing their life,” said McCurry, who traveled to New York shortly after the attacks to help with the cleanup and rescue effort.

“It means a lot to us to be able to go out to Applebee’s and represent firefighters across the country,” McCurry added.