The first sign that something special was being delivered to the Chandler Fire Department headquarters on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, was the number of staff members who came out in the mid-day heat to greet the delivery truck. The next sign was more visible and poignant. The New York workers who packed the wooden crate's contents for delivery to Arizona had scrawled a message on the top piece of plywood -- "WTC Never Forget!!!"
The package was moved to the lobby of the building, where Chandler Fire Chief Jeff Clark and several staff members helped to open the lid to reveal the contents -- a section of steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center. The twisted, rusting 417-pound section of I-beam is almost 5 feet long, 2 feet high and 9 inches wide. It was given to the Chandler Fire Department by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and it will be used to create a memorial to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and those who lost their lives that day.
As more employees filled the lobby to see the solemn artifact, the steel was maneuvered to an upright position where it could be more closely inspected. Scraped into the side was "H-121A," and the firefighters speculated that the letters and numbers might be a reference code used to catalogue the many pieces of steel removed from the World Trade Center site. A Fire Department representative has contacted the Port Authority to try to obtain more details about this particular piece of steel, and they are awaiting a response.
"We are grateful to receive this powerful reminder of what happened to the country on that day," said Chief Clark. "It's possible that a firefighter was standing on a floor supported by this beam when it collapsed. We have a responsibility to make sure that this piece is permanently displayed in a respectful way that honors our fallen heroes."
The design and location of the planned memorial has not been decided, Chief Clark said, and when it is completed a public ceremony will be held. In the meantime, he invited the public to view the World Trade Center beam in the lobby of the Fire Department headquarters at 151 E. Boston Street, during normal business hours.