By Ginger Adams Otis Daily News
The first bill signed by New York Gov. Cuomo in the new year was a dream come true for 13 young men whose shared life goal was to follow in their firefighter fathers’ footsteps. With a swipe of his pen, Cuomo last week removed the last bureaucratic barrier of the “Legacy Law” that prevented the men from getting extra credit on the most current firefighter exam, owed to them because their dads died from 9/11-related illnesses.
Seven of the 13 hires are set to join the next FDNY class that starts in just days. The first step is to pass Wednesday’s fitness test, when they must show they can run 1.5 miles in less than 12 minutes.
“It was always our intent to grant those who qualified for it the legacy points,” said state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn).
The rest of the group — and several others affected by the bureaucratic bungle who didn’t initially come forward — will join future classes in accordance with their ranking on the FDNY hiring list.
Their battle for their extra points, first reported in July by the Daily News, started when they got letters from New York City officials telling them their fathers’ deaths — which occurred years after 9/11 from Ground Zero-related illnesses — didn’t merit legacy points. Because of a loophole in how the original law was written, only children of firefighters and cops who died on the day of the attack were included.
For many of the 13, the likelihood of joining the FDNY was slim without the legacy credit. Michael Sullivan, whose firefighter dad John Sullivan died of pancreatic cancer caused by his work at Ground Zero, plummeted from 284th place on the hiring list to somewhere in the 11,000s.
“My dad was the type of person who gave everything to his firehouse, the job was everything… How could this be true?” Sullivan, 29, told The News in July.
The group pushed a bill through in September with the help of Golden, upstate Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) and the fire unions, who lobbied intensely on their behalf. Cuomo signed it into law — but it came a few weeks too late. The city had already started hiring off its most recent list, and state law prohibited FDNY officials from altering the results.
The group had all but given up, but renewed effort from the Uniformed Firefighters Association and the two lawmakers got a last-minute fix to that final loophole in front of the governor.