Each year during Fire Prevention Week, the memory and valor of New York’s firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice is commemorated at the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Albany. This year, 118 new names were etched into the Memorial’s granite wall. Two thousand five hundred and twenty-four fallen firefighters are now remembered there, with the earliest death dating back to 1811. In October 2002, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, 343 names were added to the Memorial.
But there was a significant difference to most of the new names added this year: 112 did not die fighting a fire or as the immediate result of an emergency response; they succumbed to fatal illnesses contracted while performing rescue and recovery duties at Ground Zero. According to a report from the Daily Freeman, the 112 names do not represent firefighters who passed this year. Some died as long ago as 2003. But it has taken this long for FDNY to officially recognize deaths from diseases related to 9/11 toxicity as line-of-duty deaths.
Thousands of firefighters are struggling with illnesses related to the toxic cloud that enveloped downtown NYC when the towers collapsed, and the pervasive acrid haze that remained as Ground Zero smoldered for months. Illnesses with longer latency periods, such as mesothelioma, are just starting to emerge and are gaining recognition as 9/11-related conditions.
But the health crisis has now grown well beyond first responders and rescue/recovery/removal workers. At Barasch & McGarry, our 9/11 benefits attorneys are assisting more and more people who happened to be living and working in lower Manhattan after September 11, when the EPA erroneously announced the air was safe. These are office workers, residents, teachers, and students who, more than a decade later, are experiencing horrific symptoms of potentially deadly diseases. The situation cries out for justice, and our firm is here to help, as we have been since the very beginning.
Barasch & McGarry assists injured clients from all over the country, including retired FDNY members, NYPD officers, and others who have since moved away from New York. If you do not live near New York City or are unable to travel, we arrange your first, free consultation by telephone. Please contact us online or call 888-351-9421 to discuss your case with a lawyer who understands your situation and the law.