For Those Who Gave All

WABC’s Amy Freeze reported on the heroism of FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer. Pfeifer had been a firefighter for decades, spent 6 months at the World Trade Center site working to recover the lost and finally fought Congress for healthcare coverage to benefit those affected by 9/11. Ray was the sole surviving firefighter of those working at Engine 40, Ladder 35 on 9/11. 

First responders, firefighters and police officers who worked at the attack sites as well as residents, workers, students and volunteers were exposed to a toxic mixture of chemicals and debris in the months following September 11, 2001. Thousands have become ill as a result and many have died. As of last month, 177 members of the FDNY have passed away from 9/11-related illnesses and numerous others continue to receive new diagnosis’.

The first responders who sacrificed their health and have been diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses can benefit from programs such as the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. They will need the health coverage provided by the Zadroga Act that Ray fought so hard for. 

Ray was active in seeing the Zadroga Act pass. The Zadroga Act is responsible for the health coverage of 75,000 first responders through 2090. Even when Ray was bound to a wheelchair, he continued to make his way to Washington to fight for the health and well-being of his fellow first responders. 

Despite his illness he would travel to DC and walk the halls of Congress, demanding that our country keep its promise to care for those who never wavered on their oaths on September 11,
— FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro

Ray battled 9/11-related cancer for 8 years before he died in May of 2017. 

Your husband made the ultimate sacrifice for this department, for this city and this country and we will be forever grateful for that
— FDNY Chief James Leonard said to Ray's widow Caryn Pfeifer

The WABC article notes that “According to the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, there are over 2,000 active and retired firefighters currently battling 9/11 cancers and thousands have been diagnosed with other illnesses.” The Ray Pfeifer Foundation has been established to benefit “those who gave all” - 9/11 first responders, firefighters and police whose medical needs are not covered by insurance.

In June of 2018,  Ray was honored with a plaque that now hangs in his New York firehouse. A reminder of a true hero who worked tirelessly to save lives before 9/11 and for years after. 

Read on:

photo source @9/11WTCPhoto via Flickr

Story sources:

WABC, Plaque honors FDNY's Ray Pfeifer, who fought for 9/11 benefits, by Amy Freeze, June 10, 2018

Chicago Tribune, Ray Pfeifer, retired firefighter and voice for 9/11 health care, dies after cancer battle, by Associated Press, May 29, 2017