In recognition of his dedication to Castle Rock Fire and Rescue, and his work as national coordinator of the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Division Chief Bersagel-Briese was awarded the 2023 Firefighter of the Year award by American Legion Post 1187 during its annual banquet.
Since joining CRFD in August 1999, Bersagel-Briese has worked in a variety of roles, including firefighter, engineer, lieutenant and, currently, Division Chief of Training. Part of his role includes instructing and leading firefighters, not only at CRFD, but also on a regional and national level.
Following 9/11, Bersagel-Briese developed a passion for remembering the bravery demonstrated by our nation’s first responders. In 2005, he co-founded the annual Denver 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb with a small team of other metro-area firefighters. Today, it has grown to a maximum of 343 firefighters from over 40 departments. Each firefighter climbs 110 stories, equivalent to the height of the World Trade Center while carrying a photo of one of the 343 New York City Fire Department members who lost their lives on 9/11.
Through his efforts, the Stair Climb Program has expanded to 50 climbs across eight states, with more than 1,600 participants. It has raised over $11 million nationally for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, specifically supporting the FDNY Counseling Services Unit and the families who lost family members on 9/11, and continue to lose family from 9/11-related illness.
“Without Oren’s passion and dedication to remember these fallen heroes, this program would not have grown into the recognized memorial that it is today,” said Fire Chief Norris Croom.
Bersagel-Briese is also responsible for securing two 9/11 memorials located in Town. One is located at Station 151, 300 Perry St., and features a twisted piece of steel from the World Trade Center. The second memorial is at the Public Safety Training Facility—South Building, 304 Malibu St., and uses a steel box column from the core structure of a World Trade Center Tower. Both memorials are accessible to the public 24/7.
“Oren has accomplished all of this with a high degree of humility and does this out of passion for the heroes who were lost that day,” said Croom.
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