KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chiefs tight ends Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris and Alex Ellis visited the North Kansas City Fire Department Tuesday afternoon as part of the club's efforts to recognize local first responders while also honoring the memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
“The communities that we all live in, we cherish this day,” Kelce said, “for remembering the first responders out there in New York but also everywhere, the ones who risk their lives to be here to make these communities feel safe and at ease in times of tragedy.”
Alexander Brock, a paramedic with the North Kansas City Fire Department, said the visit from the players come on a good day to provide a respite from the solemnity of 9/11.
“It's nice to be able to relax and see some of these professional athletes and these guys that a lot of the guys around the department look up to and watch them every Sunday,” Brock said. “Being able to do this on a day like this, it's very nice. It's a little uplifting.”
The team chose the NKCFD for the visit due to their performance during a three-alarm fire in May that devastated the 21,000-square-foot Pioneer Building just a few blocks from the station. Players and firefighters participated in a ball cap exchange and the Chiefs signed autographs as well. The team also presented the fire department a game ball commemorating the NFL's Salute to Service program.
The players stepped into firefighting gear and ran through training drills with the firefighters, paramadics and emergency medical technicians on duty. The players tested their ability to force through a metal door and crawl through spaces between floor and wall studs before taking a ride in the bucket of a 100-foot ladder truck.
“You learn to appreciate their job a lot more when you're trying to fight through a metal door or trying to bang through a door with an axe,” Kelce said. “Or even getting lifted on the lift on top of the truck. Being up there isn't easy, let alone trying to do some work, do some good. I can only imagine how crazy it can get for them.”
Kelce may show no fear going over the middle to catch a pass in traffic, but he admits the firefighters “scared the bejesus” out of him 100 feet above North Kansas City.
“They started shaking and rattling the lift once I finally got up there,” Kelce said with a laugh. “That wasn't too fun.”
Brock admitted to nerves of his own while helping Kelce break down the door. Kelce held a wedge that Brock pounded into place with the backside of an axe blade. The thoughts of what would happen if he injured Kelce raced through his mind.
“That was the scariest I've ever been to force a door,” Brock said. “A couple of months ago I hit one of the fellow firefighters with a sledge hammer doing the exact same training drill. I was really worried about hitting Travis Kelce's finger or something. His finger is probably worth a little bit more than mine.”