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PHOTO COURTESY CITY OF DELAND

The DeLand Fire Department has been awarded a sapling from the 9/11 Survivor Tree. 

The sapling has been planted on the southwest side of the new DeLand Fire Station 81 at 343 W. Howry Ave.. The 343 address number represents the 343 firefighters who were killed on 9/11. 

Each year, saplings from the 9/11 Survivor Tree are awarded to communities that have faced significant hardship. The DeLand Fire Department was awarded the sapling following the loss of Chief Daniel Hanes in 2018 and the F-2 tornado that struck the city in 2020.

The sapling given to the DeLand Fire Department was picked up in New York by firefighters from the Saint Augustine Fire Department, which was also awarded a sapling. 

All of the saplings are direct descendants of the Callery pear tree that was recovered and rehabilitated from the rubble at Ground Zero following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The original tree now stands near the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. 

DeLand Firefighters Jeff Von Bretzel and Travis Sawyer traveled to Saint Augustine to pick up the sapling and bring it safely to DeLand. The tree will be looked after by the firefighters and City of DeLand Public Works foresters to ensure that it remains healthy. Although quite small now, the sapling should grow to be about 12-15 feet tall within eight to 12 years. 

“We are humbled to not only be considered for this award but to have this tree awarded to our Fire Department,” Fire Chief Todd Allen said.” This tree symbolizes growth that can come following a tragedy, which can make you stronger and more resilient. Having this symbolic link to the tragic events of 9/11 will help us memorialize our own tragic events, and inspire individual growth for decades to come.”

Members of the public can see the sapling at the grand opening of the new fire station, which is set for 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Jan. 15, at 343 W. Howry Ave. The event will also mark the grand opening of the new Police Evidence Building along the south side of Howry Avenue across from the Police Station at 219 W. Howry Ave.

Tours will be given at the grand opening of the new fire station, but not the evidence building.

— City of DeLand Community Information Specialist Ava Hanner

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