Two retired firefighters die from 9/11-related illnesses on same day

Both men worked at Ground Zero following the terror attack before retiring from the department

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Monday 10 February 2020 21:32 GMT
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Firefighters Richard Jones, 63, (left) and Paul Deo Jr, 74, (right) died on Friday from 9/11-related illnesses after working for the department at Ground Zero following the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
Firefighters Richard Jones, 63, (left) and Paul Deo Jr, 74, (right) died on Friday from 9/11-related illnesses after working for the department at Ground Zero following the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. (FDNY)

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Two New York City firefighters have died on the same day due to 9/11-related illnesses.

Firefighter Richard Jones, 63, and Lt Paul Deo Jr, 74, both died on Friday from illnesses caused by their work at Ground Zero following the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement.

”Nearly two decades later, our FDNY family continues to lose remarkable men and women who never wavered in their commitment to protecting life and property in our city," Mr Nigro said. "Our department will never forget them or the bravery they exuded throughout their careers.”

Mr Jones spent his 20-year career with the FDNY by working for Ladder 25, an Upper West Side-based company that lost seven firefighters after the South Tower collapsed. He was awarded three acts of merit between the years 1992 and 1997, which is given to firefighters who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Mr Deo, a Vietnam veteran and Marine, retired from Engine 317 in St Albans, Queens, after working for the department for 33 years. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1990.

Both firefighters were two of thousands of people who worked at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11 to locate survivors and victims in the debris from the World Trade Center. They then both retired one year later within the span of one month of each other.

In 2016, Mr Deo was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease that occurs when the tissue is damaged or scarred, and received a lung transplant last year.

Funerals for the two men will be held at Saint Joseph’s Church in Manhattan later this week.

In total, more than 340 firefighters were killed at Ground Zero from the terrorist attack. Another 218 have since died from illnesses they suffered relating to the debris and air at Ground Zero, a number that has grown dramatically in recent years.

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute last month found workers exposed to the air at Ground Zero have a higher risk to contract specific types of cancer, such as leukaemia and prostate cancer.

Developing information about the illnesses emergency workers have suffered post-9/11 encouraged President Donald Trump to sign a bill in July 2019 that would add $10.2 billion into the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The fund was created in the aftermath of 9/11 for victims and survivors, with money directed, in part, towards paying healthcare costs for emergency workers.

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