NEW YORK — Ray Pfeifer, a retired FDNY firefighter who for years battled 9/11-related terminal cancer, died Sunday, according to department officials.
Pfeifer was 59. He leaves behind a wife and two adult children.
He died Sunday morning following an eight-year battle with cancer, according to the FDNY.
PIX11 has featured multiple stories on Pfeifer. In April, the Hicksville resident was in hospice care, suffering from brain cancer, and cancer in his nodules, lungs and adrenal glands.
The illness, related to the fateful day he responded to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, wreaked havoc on the firefighter’s body, but he remained strong and grateful to have seen his children grow up, telling PIX11 in 2014:
“I’m a very lucky man. My friends were murdered on 9/11, from the 12th on, from that day on. I’m still here. I’m very lucky. I got to watch my kids grow up,” Pfeifer said.
Pfeifer was a leader in the fight to get the Zadroga Act passed in Washington D.C., which guarantees medical care for 9/11 first responders. Those efforts earned him a key to the city.
In his final months, Pfeifer took on another battle — working to ensure him and other first responders who die due to 9/11-related illnesses get him a place on FDNY’s main Wall of Honor.
The FDNY created a separate Wall of Honor for the men and women who responded to the catastrophe, and later died, because of the toxins they were exposed to.
Last month, then bound to a wheelchair, Pfeifer told PIX11 why responders who die after 9/11 deserve a place next to those who die in the line of duty.
“We should be on the wall which started in 1865,” Pfeifer said, referring to the main wall, which already contains the names of 343 FDNY members of the service who perished on 9/11.
“I feel that I’m being poisoned, and I’m dying, every single day, because of terrorism,” Pfeifer said.
His friend, John Feal, who founded the Feal Good Foundation, agrees.
“Don’t come up to someone and call them a hero, if you’re not going to honor them all the way,” Feal said in April.
Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday joined dozens of others on social media offering condolences to Pfeifer’s family.
“Just learned that Ray Pfeifer has died. You meet very few truly great men in your life. Ray was one of them,” Schumer tweeted.
The FDNY has also commemorated him.
“Ray Pfeifer was a true fighter who bravely battled fires as a New York City Firefighter and fought tirelessly for all first responders who — like him — suffered from World Trade Center related illness. The entire FDNY family deeply mourns his loss,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.