On September 22, 2014, three firefighters who responded to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 all died on the same day due to cancer stemming from exposure to hazardous materials and chemicals on that day 13 years ago.
Retired FDNY Lt. Howard Bischoff and firefighters Daniel Heglund and Robert Leaver, who were also retired, all contracted cancer from the hours they spent digging through the rubble searching for bodies and survivors. Despite the complications they would experience in the years afterward, all three said they never regretted responding that day, saying it was the duty they owed to their city and country.
Most Americans are well aware of the initial sacrifices firefighters and first responders made when they climbed the stairs of the World Trade Center to help rescue victims as the towers still stood, with most of them losing their lives when the buildings collapsed. However, many of the people who spent the next days and weeks at the site looking for victims suffered incredible consequences later on, and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association says that about 850 firefighters and emergency medical technicians now have cancer related to the event. Ninety-two firefighters have died since 2001 from cancers and other illnesses due to exposure.
In the week after the three firefighters’ deaths, there have been renewed calls for expanding the Zadroga Health and Compensation Act, which provides health care benefits and compensation to 9/11 first responders and their families — many of whom are still dealing with the aftereffects of that tragic day. Advocates say that the medical issues these heroes are experiencing have only just begun and it’s important to make sure they’re compensation for the sacrifices they have made.
If you or a family member was a first responder on 9/11 and you could use assistance through the Zadroga Act, speak with the knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury lawyers at Barasch & McGarry right away.