Ray Pfeifer, the beloved New York City firefighter who battled terminal 11 September-related cancer for eight years, died on Sunday, the department announced. He was 59.
The retired firefighter contracted the disease after he spent eight months in the World Trade Center in 2001 combing through the rubble to search for survivors, according to Fox 5 NY.
“Ray Pfeifer was a real fighter who bravely fought fires as a New York City Firefighter and fought tirelessly for all health workers that — like him — suffering from the World Trade Center-related illness. The entire FDNY family deeply mourns his loss, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro wrote on FIREFIGHTERS Facebook page.
Pfeifer fought for the Zadroga Act in Congress, a law that guarantees that the medical care for 9/11 first responders. He earned a key to the City of New York last year for his work and dedication.
During the last months of his life, Pfeifer pushed to have his name and other emergency workers who died of 9/11-related illnesses a place on the FIREFIGHTERS, the main Wall of Honor, according to PIX11 News. The wall contains the names of 343 FDNY members who died during the 2001 terror.
“I feel that I’m being poisoned, and I’m going to die, every day, because of terrorism,” Pfeifer told PIX11 News.
Pfeifer was outspoken about his battle with cancer, often posting updates on social media. In January, he noticed 2,610 days since he was diagnosed.
“The facts — 2610 day of this f’n cancer and counting. But also 2610 day with family and friends!!!!!! Thank you,” Pfeifer wrote, along with a photo.
Dozens of people, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, paid their condolences to Pfeifer.
“It was a privilege to know Ray and to work with him. My condolences to his family and to all the FIREFIGHTERS,” Schumer wrote on Twitter.
We have just learned that Ray Pfeifer died. You meet very few truly great men in your life. Ray was one of them.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) 28 May 2017
“Sad to hear of the death of FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer. His tireless advocacy was instrumental in helping the 9/11 first responders,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Sad to hear of the death of FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer. His tireless advocacy was instrumental in helping the 9/11 first responders.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) 29 May 2017
Pfeifer leaves behind his wife and two children, one of which who is also a firefighter.
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