NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - In the years that followed the attacks of September 11, 2001, thousands of first responders have been stricken with 9/11-related illnesses. As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, those first responders who have passed away are being remembered.
"That brings the total to 159 members of this department who have died due to their Trade Center-related illnesses," said Chief Jake LeMonda, the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
Since September 11, more than 10,000 FDNY members have contracted at least one certified world trade center illness, according to the department. This number includes more than one thousand who are still active today. Cancer in various forms is the most frequent diagnosis.
LeMonda said the Zadroga Act has helped lawmakers and insurance companies understand the severity of post-9/11 illnesses. He also said that he knows with each anniversary, the number of New York's Bravest who lost their life to a World Trade Center illness, sadly, will grow.
"Each and every time we attend a funeral, we attend a memorial, a plaque dedication -- it still has that impact," LeMonda said. "But I can tell you this. Oftentimes, I have to speak to members who we represent and never once has one of those members who were terminally ill said to me they wish they never went down there. In fact, most of them tell me that they would do it all over again if they had to."