Casper firefighters and first responders make dozens of grueling assents and descents in memory of the fallen first responders during a 9/11 tribute on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, at the Ford Wyoming Center. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — Casper-area emergency workers, along with some community members, gathered early Monday morning to pay tribute to the hundreds of first responders who died during the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

“The City of Casper Fire Department and the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office wanted to get together this year and open it up to the public,” said Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Kiera Grogan.

The event took place for the first time at the Ford Wyoming Center. Traditionally, the city’s crews used the downtown Casper parking garage to hold their tributes.

Cards with the names and photos of each of the firefighters who died responding to the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2021, are laid out on a table during a 9/11 stair climb memorial on Monday morning at the Ford Wyoming Center. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

The stair climb represents the 110 flights of stairs firefighters and rescuers climbed before the Twin Towers collapsed. Some 343 first responders died during the rescue attempts, according to CNN. Years later, it is estimated that nearly that many more rescuers had died from illnesses that can be traced to the toxic cloud and debris on the site after the attacks.

The number of flights add up to eight laps, each lap consisting of climbs and descents along the isles of the Ford Wyoming Center. Some of the responders intended to go further in tribute to those fallen after the attacks, and in recognition of the many firefighters who were in the process of climbing straight up before the towers collapsed.

This year for the first time, community members are encouraged to participate in the climb event up until 1 p.m., Grogan said.

Bill Bohman, Casper Fire Department engineer, paid tribute to the fallen and those who served afterwards during a short speech before the climb.

“May we never forget all those lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001,” he said. “May this be a constant reminder of the sacrifices of those who protect us, but also the strength and resilience that embodies us as a nation.”