FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, honoring 22 city firefighters killed in the last year by exposure to 9/11 toxins, told a tearful crowd Friday that the number of Ground Zero victims would only grow in coming years.
Nigro told the family members assembled for the heartbreaking annual cemetery at FDNY headquarters that the department needed to expand its wall holding the names of the fallen before next year’s sad event, when the number of victims will surpass the available space.
Soon, he warned, the post-9/11 FDNY death toll will surpass the 343 firefighters killed at the World Trade Center.
“It remains inconceivable that now, 18 years later, we’re still losing our loved ones because of the attack this day,” he said at the emotional gathering. "That pain is still difficult for us to process and comprehend. But what would have seemed unimaginable then is now a harsh reality.
“That number of firefighters lives continues to grow.”
Winston Lewis, the son of firefighter Charles Williams of Ladder Co. 11, recalled his father’s death this past June. His dad spend five or six days on the toxic pile of rubble, and four years fighting his cancer.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” said Lewis. “He was always a firefighter, and he wanted to to join the Fire Department. I think that’s the one disappointment my father had of me, that I didn’t join the Fire Department. He really believed in living a life of service."
Laura Driscoll, whose dad Richard died of cancer this past July, shed tears between each sentence as she recalled his 32 years at FDNY Engine Co. 91.
“I don’t want anyone to forget the sacrifice that they all have made," said Driscoll. "And again, he was really he was a good guy. He was a really good man. And the motto of the firehouse is ‘Say no more.’ And that’s it.”