Significant steel
Tim Jenkins, president of the P.E.I. Firefighters Association, is thrilled to have acquired a piece of rusted steel from the fallen World Trade Centre. The artifact will be the focal point in the lobby of the Association's new training building.

Published on March 4, 2011

Jim Day

Topics : World Trade Centre , P.E.I. Firefighters Association , Charlottetown Fire Department , Charlottetown , New York , Sleepy Hollow Road
An old, rusted slab of steel soon caused a stir among local firefighters.

The metre-long, 30.6 kilogram piece, identified simply as I-0078m, was delivered to Charlottetown last week almost 10 years after it plummeted to the ground.

“It arrived and a few firefighters that got the box had no idea what it was,’’ said Tim Jenkins, president of the P.E.I. Firefighters Association.

“When we opened it and understood what it was word traveled within minutes around the city. It was pretty wild.’’

The steel piece is from the fallen World Trade Centre that collapsed in a heap on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York as millions stared at TV screens in horror and disbelief as they witnessed live shocking death and destruction.

The twin towers fell in 2001 when terrorists commandeered commercial airlines and flew them into the buildings. Some 3,000 people died.

Of those, 343 were firefighters. The heavy toll of those dying in the line of duty hit fellow firefighters like Jenkins with ferocious force.

“It was hugely emotional for every firefighter, I think,’’ said Jenkins, a volunteer firefighter with the Charlottetown Fire Department.

“I had also the opportunity to go to the memorial service which was in October 2002 in New York, which is an experience I will never forget,’’ he said.

“There were 343 firefighters holding flags of which I got to be one of when leading the parade. The whole process did a lot for the fire service -- you know, brought a lot of what we do to the forefront. I think it gave a greater understanding of what we do.’’

So the slab of steel acquired by the P.E.I. Firefighters Association is truly a cherished artifact that will serve as the focal point in the lobby of the Association’s new training building off Sleepy Hollow Road in Charlottetown. Jenkins hopes to see new building built before this Sept. 11, which will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack that not only rocked but also changed the world.

“To some it is a hunk of steel, you know, it’s a 68-pound piece of steel and has very little value or meaning in that way,’’ said Jenkins.

“But when you understand that it is a piece of the World Trade Centre that will be a piece of our history for generations to come, especially to firefighters, it’s a very meaningful piece of steel.’’

Jenkins says the P.E.I. Firefighters Association acquired the artifact after a year and a half of collaborative efforts with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The association learned in September 2009 that the Port Authority was inviting proposals from public agencies and from not for profit organizations interested in acquiring a piece of 9/11 World Trade Centre steel for public display.

The steel artifacts have been painstakingly preserved for nine years at Hanger 17 at JFK Airport in New York. The thousands of pieces of steel and other artifacts were in a temperature and moisture controlled environment.

None of the artifacts were released until the National Institute of Standards and Technology completed a four-year investigation of how the crashed caused the buildings to collapse, the effects of the impact, fire and subsequent stresses on various grades and thicknesses of steel as floor after floor pancaked downward.

Court approval was required for the structural steel’s release as a host of lawsuits were filed and settled.