Firefighters have been vocal in support for renewing the Zadroga Act, a piece of federal legislation providing medical care and financial compensation to all survivors and responders who became injured or ill in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A statement from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) was released on June 10, with New York City firefighters calling lawmakers to take action to be able to continue helping those desperately in need of assistance to survive their medical issues.
Many firefighters were present at Ground Zero after the attacks, helping to search for survivors and to clean up the debris in the area. However, they were also among the more than 30,000 people who have developed some chronic health conditions caused by exposure to toxic dust in the area. According to the Fire Department of New York, more than 70 firefighters and 60 police officers have since died from these health conditions.
At a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, first responders testified about the dangers of not reauthorizing the Zadroga Act, parts which are set to expire in 2015 and 2016. Extending the Zadroga Act would ensure the continued ability of victims of these conditions to get the support they need from the Victim Compensation Fund.
An extension could be life-saving for many people who have not yet had symptoms of latent health conditions reveal themselves. Many forms of cancer and respiratory illnesses, for example, take years after first exposure to present symptoms, which means anyone who has such conditions manifest themselves after the Zadroga Act ends could be forced to go without the assistance they need.
Firefighters continue to lobby for the extension of the law to support all those who were brave enough to come to Ground Zero and assist with searches and cleanup. For more information, contact the respected New York attorneys at Barasch, McGarry, Salzman & Penson.