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WATCH: Las Vegas Fire and Rescue honors 9/11 victims with longtime tradition 'Tolling of the Bells'

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Posted at 6:41 AM, Sep 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-11 10:17:38-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas Fire and Rescue held a remembrance event in tribute to all those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, early Saturday including a longtime tradition in the fire service known as the “Tolling of the Bells."

Watch the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue 'Tolling of the Bells' below:

At 6:45 a.m., the approximate time of the South Tower collapse at the World Trade Center, the agency tolled a bell in front of Las Vegas Fire Station Five.

LVFR shared some background information on the history of the tradition below.

'TOLLING OF THE BELLS' HISTORY

The ringing of the bell is a longtime tradition of the fire service known as the “tolling of the bells.”

Many years before radio communications existed in the fire service, communication was done via fire alarm boxes on street corners that were assigned a “box number” much like an address. Firefighters had to memorize the box numbers and their locations.

When a person pulled a fire alarm, the signal would go to all the fire stations by wire and ring the bell in the stations. The bell would ring the number issued to that box and firefighters would respond.

Fire dispatch would also have designated ringing of the bells to alert department members of certain events.

If a firefighter was killed in the line of duty, fire dispatch would ring the bell in sets of five, three times. This would let everyone in the department know that a firefighter had just lost his or her life in the line of duty.

SATURDAY'S REMEMBRANCE IN LAS VEGAS

After the bell ringing and flag raising, a retired New York City firefighter, Frank Pizarro, sang the National Anthem.

Pizarro was a firefighter assigned to FDNY Engine 76 and was off duty when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. He saw the incident unfolding on his TV.

He, like many other off-duty firefighters, got into their cars and drove to their assigned fire stations to see if they could help. When Pizarro got to his station, a number of other off-duty firefighters were arriving and they loaded into a fire hydrant maintenance vehicle parked at the station and headed off to the World Trade Center.

When they arrived, the first tower had already fallen.

They started helping as best they could in the rubble. As they were searching for victims, the second tower started to come down atop them. The firefighters retreated into a parking garage saving their lives. Pizarro, like many other firefighters, stayed on the scene working the collapse for several consecutive days.

Pizarro, a Las Vegas resident, asked to be a part of the tribute by singing the National Anthem. Pizarro is a professional singer, he was lead singer with the Platters for several years.

Information provided by Las Vegas Fire and Rescue.