GREENFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Eighteen years ago today, our nation changed forever after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 took the lives of nearly 3,000 people.

It's a somber day many of us hold near to our hearts, but especially first responders.

The morning of September 11, 2001 is a day that most people who were old enough to remember will never forget.

"[Where were you that morning?] I was actually in high school. I was in advanced physical science class when we were told," said Greenfield Fire Lt. Andrew Eisch.

Greenfield Police Officer Christopher Rowell added, "I was playing with my six week old daughter, had the news on, watched as the first plane hit, and a few minutes later, when the second plane hit, knew something was up."

Rowell told Western Mass News that even though he was nearly 200 miles away, the department had all hands on-deck, unsure of what was going to happen next.

"When it happened, it was a quick kick to the gut to say 'Hey, we gotta be better. We gotta be smarter, more trained. Just more prepared for anything,'" Rowell explained.

Eighteen years later, firefighters and police officers in Greenfield are proving that those men and women will not be forgotten.

At 8:46 a.m. Wednesday - the exact time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center that fateful day - the Greenfield Police and Fire Departments teamed up to climb the equivalent of 110 flights of stairs on stair machines, in full uniform.

It's symbolic of the flights climbed by the first responders who risked their lives trying to save others.

"We split it up because there are so many of us to do it in a relay style to get to the 110 flights, but just knowing that when the first responders got there they didn't have anyone to say 'I'll take over from here.' They, they did it," Rowell added.

Beyond the first responders who died that day, at least 200 firefighters who worked at Ground Zero in New York have died because of illnesses connected to the clean-up.

That's why the departments took this opportunity to raise money for the 9-11 Fund.

"It kind of a wound that never is going to heal, especially with people getting cancer from the collapse, but the most we can do to contribute is the least we can do."

As for next year, "hopefully not the last. Hopefully, we can do it every year."

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