(NEW YORK) — As 9/11 first responders push Congress to extend funding for their care, a grim new marker was reached with the death of the 200th member of the New York City fire department from World Trade Center related illnesses.
Firefighters Kevin Nolan died on Tuesday and Richard Driscoll died on Wednesday, according to the Fire Department of New York (FDNY).
“It is almost incomprehensible that after losing 343 members on September 11, we have now had 200 more FDNY members die due to World Trade Center illness,” fire commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement Thursday. “These heroes gave their lives bravely fighting to rescue and recover others. We will never forget them.”
Congress is currently considering a 9/11 victims compensation bill that would ensure funding through 2090.
The bill passed the Democrat-controlled House overwhelmingly last week, but proponents are waiting for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the bill to the Republican-led Senate floor for a vote. The Senate bill has been held up since Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., raised concerns about how it would be paid for.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted about the deaths and called for the fund to be fully funded.
“They didn’t hesitate to run into danger. They stayed until the work was done. The Senate MUST fully fund the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund,” de Blasio wrote in his tweet.
Nolan retired from the FDNY in 2007 and is survived by his wife and three adult children, the New York Daily News reported. The specific nature of his illness was not immediately publicly disclosed.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York said his funeral is scheduled for Saturday. On their website, they asked all off-duty members to attend in their class A uniforms.
Driscoll, retired from the department in 2002 after serving for 32 years, was the 200th FDNY member to die of a World Trade Center-related illness, and died of cancer.
He was a Vietnam veteran and the FDNY confirmed that he had been cited five times for bravery in the course of his career.
According to a list compiled by the union, there have been eight FDNY deaths so far in 2019 as a result of World Trade Center-related illnesses.
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