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Zadroga Act renamed to honor Pfeifer, Alvarez

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Ray Pfeifer and Luiz Alvarez, both long advocates of the 9/11 James Zadroga Act, will be joining his legacy by having their names added to the legislation.

Lawmakers from across the aisle announced on July 8 their plan to make the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund permanent and rename it to memorialize the two, both of whom were first responders who died after long battles with cancer related to their exposure to the toxins at ground zero.

The legislation will now be called the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.”

Ray Pfeifer served in the East Meadow Fire Department’s Engine Company No. 3 and spent eight months responding to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He eventually developed kidney cancer and died in May 2017 at age 59.

Pfeifer joined the EMFD in 1978, and became its youngest captain in 1982. He was also a member of the New York City Fire Department, with which he responded to the 2001 attacks.

Even in the throes of his illness, Pfeifer traveled to Washington to urge Congress to extend the Zadroga Act, which provides health care coverage to 9/11 first responders fighting illnesses related to exposure to the toxins at the World Trade Center.

Among the 332 bipartisan cosponsors of the legislation are New York senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, Colorado senator Cory Gardner and New York representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King.

“Our 9/11 first responders are sick and dying, and too many of them have spent too much of their precious time left fighting to convince Congress to pass [the legislation],” Gillibrand said.

Congressman King said that Pfeifer, Alvarez and Zadroga “personified America’s spirit and courage,” adding, “It is appropriate that the Victims Compensation Fund be named in their honor.”

The new legislation aims to fully fund the Victim’s Compensation Fund and keep it open to those who may become ill in the future. On June 12, the Judiciary Committee approved legislation to extend the bill and House leaders have promised to pass the newly named legislation this month. Next, it will be sent to the Senate and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would prioritize its advancement.