On January 9, Mayor Bill de Blasio presented former FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer the keys to the city at City Hall in honor of his tenacious advocacy of Zadroga Act reauthorization. Pfeifer, currently battling stage-four renal cancer, played a pivotal role in persuading Congress to continue health benefits for sick 9/11 responders until the year 2090.
“The key to the city was made for people like Ray Pfeifer,” the mayor said, prompting a standing ovation from a room packed with police, firefighters, elected officials and families of fellow first responders.
According to the New York Daily News, Pfeifer, 57, worked on rescue and recovery efforts for eight months at Ground Zero, and six years later he was diagnosed with renal cancer. But as he faced numerous surgical procedures and frequent hospitalization, Pfeifer fought another long batter to secure Zadroga Act benefits for survivors suffering from 9/11-related illnesses. Congress finally voted in December 2015 to extend the coverage.
Comedian Jon Stewart, who also rallied for the extension, spoke of how Pfeifer and other Zadroga Act advocates had impressed him. Stewart related a story about how Pfeifer, lobbying on Capitol Hill, had spotted Sen. Deb Fischer, R-NE, who had not pledged support, and he approached her with cameras rolling. After the encounter, Pfeifer told Stewart he felt bad about how they had “ambush(ed) her in the hallway.” Pfeifer began writing notes to Fischer, befriended her, and won her support for the Zadroga bill.
Pfeifer referred to himself as a “poster boy” but would only take credit for being “a very small part” of the successful effort. We at Barasch & McGarry understand Ray Pfeifer’s modesty. The first responders we’ve represented have all been humble, selfless individuals who are embarrassed by the slightest suggestion they are heroes. But what they did on September 11th — and in the days, weeks and months following — exemplifies true courage and dedication. As a firm whose strong advocacy for 9/11 responders included James Zadroga himself, we know there would never have been a Zadroga Act, let alone a reauthorization, without the amazing efforts of people like Ray Pfeifer.
If you have questions about your rights regarding any 9/11-related illness, call Barasch & McGarry at [ln::phone] or contact our office online.