Chili 9/11 Ceremony holds special meaning for longtime volunteer firefighter

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CHILI, N.Y. (WHEC) – The Chili Fire Department held a ceremony for those fallen during the 9/11 terror attacks.

Dave Nichols, a navy veteran, who has also served as a volunteer firefighter for 45 years in Irondequoit tells News10NBC that remembering 9/11 is not to bring sadness but to share stories of humanity.

Nichols says it’s the day after the attacks he remembers often, "September 12, 2001, when we were Americans again when we were humans when something good came out of something so horrific.”

Nichols explained that September 12, 2001 is the date that marks the start of what became an outpouring of empathy and help from around the world, aiding many in the healing process.

"In total, I knew 23 people that died that day,” Nichols recalled.

One of those people was his close family member. New York firefighter Gerard Dewan worked with Ladder Three. He died climbing the staircase inside the North Tower trying to save lives.

"The last transmission from his captain was ‘Ladder Three fortieth and climbing,’“ Nichols told us.

A steel beam that once sat in a pile of debris at Ground Zero now serves as a memorial at the Chili Fire Department and also a symbol of significance for Nichols.

"That beam is from the 65th to 68th floor of the North Tower, so it has some selfish significance.” Referencing how George Dewan was to that beam in particular.

Honoring the day every year is more than just a memory. For some, it’s educating future generations.

"There are over 50 million Americans that were born since then and even more that were one or two years old and didn’t really understand what was going on, and they need to know,” said Chili Town Supervisor David Dunning.

Dunning says that steel beam arrived at the department in 2011, making its final resting place in Chili.