Ohio FD to design 9/11 memorial centered around World Trade Center beam

The section of steel, about 2 feet in length and weighing about 110 pounds, had been held as evidence in New York since 2001, and the department acquired it in 2010


Kaitlyn McGarvey
Record-Courier, Kent, Ohio

RAVENNA, Ohio — The Ravenna City Fire Department is hoping to honor the memory of the Sept. 11 attacks by building a memorial designed around a section of steel from the World Trade Center the department acquired in 2010.

While the department has been thinking about a memorial since then, Lt. Chris Singleton said now, as the country marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks, seems like the right time to do something new with the steel beam.

Singleton said the department acquired its section of I-beam from the World Trade Center in 2010. The section of steel, about 2 feet in length and weighing about 110 pounds, had been held as evidence in New York since 2001. The fire department came into possession of it through a website that agreed to send it to them as long as it was used for a memorial.

Plans to build a memorial have been envisioned by the department since then. While it hasn't been placed in a memorial, many in the community have still had the chance to see the beam over the years. The Ravenna City Fire Department has brought it to county fairs, schools and even a 9/11 memorial parade in Mantua.

Initially, the fire department began working with students in a masonry class at a local school to help design and construct the memorial. Unfortunately, plans fell through and local construction experts were contacted.

Renderings of a proposed memorial show the bell that currently sits outside the station on Park Way suspended far off the ground. The space created below it is where the steel beam would be mounted. The ground below the nearby flagpole would also be shaped to look like a pentagon. The estimated cost is $21,000.

Singleton began his career as a firefighter 21 years ago, just before that lifechanging day that changed perceptions of security and terrorism, he said. He said he thinks it is important for the Ravenna community to have a 9/11 memorial to honor the memory of the event, those impacted as well as those in the military.

"Look how many family members it's touched," Singleton said.

Streetsboro has had a 9/11 memorial since 2011, when the department acquired an 8-foot section of steel beam. Since the early 2010s, the beam has had a special spot on the campus of the Streetsboro Fire Department Station on Route 43.

"From the moment we received [the beam], we were moved by its presence," Streetsboro Fire Capt. Kevin Grimm said.

The feeling from seeing it was hard to describe as it evoked many emotions, he said, knowing the steel was part of the iconic World Trade Center towers and only became twisted with great force. It is now a remnant of that tragedy and is a stark reminder of that day.

The world of firefighting changed forever on Sept. 11, 2021, Grimm said. All of the emergency planning and incident management strategies now required are direct results of that day.

Streetsboro's 9/11 Memorial was constructed by members of the city of Streetsboro Service Department in summer 2011. Funds for construction of the original memorial came from the Streetsboro Firefighters Association, private donors, the city, and donations from the Streetsboro American Legion and V.F.W. posts.

The topper on the memorial's bell has a surprising connection to Sept. 11, too. Several years ago, Streetsboro resident Carol Fruscella brought the bell top to the fire department. Her father, Robert J. McCune, a World War II veteran, was gifted a train engine bell from the Pennsylvania Railroad many years ago.

Fruscella said her father turned the bell into a table and no longer had a need for the top. As she was clearing out her parents' barn on their Pennsylvania farm, she came across it, Grimm said. United Airlines Flight 93 passed directly over that farm before crashing in Shanksville. Remembering that, she decided donate it to the fire department.

As Streetsboro neared the completion of its new fire station earlier this year, the original 9/11 Memorial was disassembled and constructed again beside the new building. Streetsboro firefighters helped design the new memorial, Grimm said.

Two large lights were added behind the steel beam and face toward the sky. Under the right conditions, the lights illuminate from the ground up, representing the twin towers. Memorial bricks continue to be sold to help the Streetsboro Firefighters Association maintain the site.

The Ravenna City Fire Department aims to complete its memorial by the 21st anniversary of 9/11 in 2022.

The department is accepting donations through Venmo, @ Ravenna-Fire- Union. Checks can also be mailed to the Ravenna Professional Firefighters Local 1340, P.O. 404 Ravenna, OH 44266. Donations can also be dropped off at the station.

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(c)2021 Record-Courier, Kent, Ohio

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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