After months and months of filling out paperwork and waiting, the Spokane Valley Fire Department has finally received a piece of a steel beam that was part of one of the World Trade Center towers destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.
The department plans to place the 9-foot section of beam in the lobby of its new administration building, which is under construction. A special ceremony is being planned for Sept. 11 at 6:59 a.m., the time that the first tower fell. The department wants the public to be a part of the process, so residents living in the department’s service area are asked to submit proposed wording to go on a memorial plaque that will be installed with the beam.
All submissions should be 65 words or less and must be sent to Station 1 at 10319 E. Sprague Ave. by Aug. 2. The fire commissioners will review the submissions and select their favorite. The person who writes the wording that is chosen will be invited to read the plaque at the dedication ceremony.
The plan is to put the beam vertically in the lobby, leaning at a slight angle, said Deputy Chief Larry Rider. It will be set in concrete. “It becomes part of the building,” he said. The beam will also be lighted. “Even if the building is dark, the beam is lit.”
Sixteen people will be selected to carry the 1,300-pound beam into the unfinished building, where it will be hoisted into place. Rider said he hopes to include firefighters and members of each branch of the military in the ceremony.
The beam is identified with a number. “The artifacts were categorized in an evidence pool,” Rider said. “The beam to me is significant. It’s a piece of history.”
Nothing will be done to the beam before it is put into place. It is heavily rusted and in places the fireproofing insulation still clings to the surface. “If you brush up against it in a white shirt, you’re going to have an orange shoulder,” Rider said.
Right now the beam is being stored at the department’s maintenance shop. Fire Marshal Kevin Miller stopped by to view it this week while his truck was being worked on in the shop. “At our Station 8 we actually have a piece of the rubble,” he said as he examined the steel.
Miller said he was glad the department’s application to receive a piece of the tower was approved. “It was quite the process,” he said.