Union Leaders Plan News Conference after 9/11-Related Illness Kills 3 Retired FDNY Firefighters in 1 Day

CBSNewYork/AP

The Uniformed Fire Officers Association is planning a news conference Thursday after three retired FDNY firefighters died from 9/11-related illnesses. Lt. Howard Bischoff and firefighters Robert Leaver and Daniel Heglund all died Monday.

All three worked at ground zero in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.

Heglund spent 21 years with the FDNY and died just one day before his 59th birthday.

Bischoff and Leaver grew up together in Brooklyn and were childhood friends. Bischoff served 19 years with the department while Leaver served 20.

FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said their deaths were “a painful reminder that 13 years later we continue to pay a terrible price for the department’s heroic efforts.”

The Uniformed Fire Officers Association says FDNY first responders showed health effects soon after the attacks, with 99 percent of exposed firefighters reporting at least one new respiratory illness.

“The New York City Fire Department was the only agency that had health data on firefighters pre-9/11,” fire union president Stephen Cassidy told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “The study that they did in the first year after 9/11 showed that firefighters lost 12 years lung capacity in the blink of an eye.”

Some lawmakers are introducing a bill to extend benefits for 9/11 rescue workers who have gotten sick since September 11.

They are calling it the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.

The act would extend the original Zadroga bill for another 25 years. Benefits from the bill that covers medical treatment and compensation for 9/11 heroes are set to expire in the next two years.

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