When Michael Fazio was a youngster heading off to school each morning in Shady Cove, he and his little brother stopped by the fire station near their home.

When Michael Fazio was a youngster heading off to school each morning in Shady Cove, he and his little brother stopped by the fire station near their home.

"We always stopped to talk to the firefighters," recalled the 1990 Eagle Point High School graduate. "They were friendly and their door was always open."

Add to that congeniality the fact they were devoted to saving lives and property, and he had found his career.

Fazio, now 38 and president of Grants Pass Firefighters Local 3564, is leading a fundraising effort to honor the 343 firefighters and others among the 2,752 who died at the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

Early this month the 27-member union was notified by the city's Port Authority that it has been awarded a 1,048-pound, 10-foot-long piece of steel that once was part of one of the twin towers. He and two members of his union will fly to the Big Apple in late August or early September, rent a truck and drive back to Grants Pass with the metal piece.

The metal will be the centerpiece to a 9/11 memorial to be built in 2012 outside the Parkway Fire Station in Grants Pass.

"The planning is still in the infancy stage, but to rough it out it will cost about $10,000," he estimated. "It's a big undertaking and we are a small union."

The union decided late last year to tackle the project after a member saw an article on the Internet noting the Port Authority of New York was making the memorial pieces available to firefighters and others, he said.

"We put in for it as a union," he said. "It took a good six months of red tape to get it. We were notified about three weeks ago that we had received the piece."

They don't know yet which tower the steel came from but expected to be informed about its history when they arrive to pick it up, he said.

The union, which includes three members from the Applegate Valley, will hold fundraisers and already is taking donations, he said.

Donations to the memorial project can be made at the union's web site at www.iaff3564.org. The journey west will be chronicled on the union's Facebook page, Fazio said.

"I also want to share this with the people we encounter along the way," he said. "I want them to know what we are carrying."

They hope to rent a flatbed truck, and haul the metal draped by an American flag and a sign explaining the project, he said.

"We want to make sure we accommodate everyone," he said. "This means a lot to all Americans. Every American remembers where he or she was at when those towers went down."

A firefighter since 1993, including 10 years in Grants Pass where he now lives, Fazio said it was particularly difficult for every firefighter across the nation who followed the terrorist attack.

"Every firefighter knew what that meant when (they heard) alarms were going off — that a firefighter was in trouble," he said of the personal alarms worn by firefighters on their uniforms. "Every firefighter knew that someone was not moving and needed help."

Creating a memorial in Grants Pass to those lost in the 9/11 tragedy is a way to keep their memory alive from one side of the coast to the other, Fazio said.

"It's hard, getting this all together, including the three one-way tickets to New York," he said. "But we are definitely going to do this. It's very important to us."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.