ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FLA -- Most days Jack Timmes comes to Ironclad Gym with the idea of getting in a good lift.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, he pulls into his normal spot after finishing a 24-hour shift at Apopka Fire Station No. 1.
"Good morning," he says with a big smile. The 24-year old doesn't appear to be tired. He's actually rather energized.
"This works everything," he says preparing for today. This workout doesn't come with weights or cables.
“The heaviness you get used to. None of us think it’s that heavy but it’s hot. You just bake in it.”
It comes with guts, a great appreciation and 75 lbs of firemen's gear.
“This workout is specifically designed for the guys who climbed to the top of the towers.”
In full gear, Timmes gets on a stairmaster and sets his target for 110. What's the significance? It represents the number of floors New York Fire Department first responders climbed in the World Trade Center in an attempt to save as many lives as possible on September 11, 2001.
The firemen stair climb has become tradition. With each step, Jack thinks about the 343 firefighters who lost their lives that day.
“You don’t realize what they actually do until you actually get into the job. Probably took the job to realize, dang, can’t imagine climbing that many stairs. Can’t imagine doing all that stuff.”
He's not alone. Adjacent to him is Robbie Hippler and Oscar Santos; firefighters at Apopka Station No. 2.
“Personally I think it’s a small price to pay," Hippler said. "Even just imagining the conditions they were in and doing this on a stair master in a controlled environment doesn’t even compare.”
“You think back on those men who sacrificed it all to save a complete stranger, " Santos said. “I think I was six years old. You really don’t have a full understanding of what went on but now that I’m older it’s crazy to think that happened.”
The day serves as a tribute. Those heroes remain an inspiration.
“We all want to do what they did. We want to be in those footsteps. You respect and understand it more.”