After 3 Sept. 11 FDNY deaths, fire group urges Congress to renew benefits law

The law, which funds treatment for workers sickened by the toxic fumes of Ground Zero, expires in 2016

NEW YORK — The United Fire Officers Associated called on Congress to reauthorize the law that provides medical treatment for responders after three firefighters died on the same day from 9/11-related cancer.

Three retired FDNY firefighters — Lt. Howard Bischoff, a 19-year veteran with the FDNY, firefighter Robert Leaver, a 20-year veteran, and firefighter Daniel Heglund, a 21-year veteran — died within hours of each other from cancer contracted from the World Trade Center site while digging through the rubble for survivors and bodies.

"Oftentimes we would ask them, 'Do you ever regret responding?' Their answer was simple, their answer was our country needed us and they would do it all over again," Uniformed Fire Officers Association President James Lemonda told

Their deaths bring the death toll to 92 firefighters who have died from 9/11-related illnesses in the 13 years since the attacks, according to the report. A total of 850 firefighters and medics now have 9/11-related cancer, the union says.

"Every single day we are being notified that more and more of our members are becoming ill," Lemonda said.

Supporters of the Zadroga-9/11 Health and Compensation Act are pushing Congress to reauthorize it before the act expires, according to the report. It provides health care and compensation to first responders and survivors of the terror attacks.

"I'm asking them to be as brave as the people who responded on that day. Let's pass this legislation extend this legislation and let's help those Americans who helped our fellow Americans on that day," Lemonda said.

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