Two retired New York City firefighters who were part of the rescue and recovery efforts following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, died on the same day from 9/11 related illnesses, officials confirmed on Feb. 9.
The pair, 74-year-old Paul Deo, Jr. and 63-year-old Richard Jones, passed away on Friday, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) announced.
“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,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, reported the New York Daily News.
It is estimated 410,000 people were exposed to toxins from the site of the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, according to officials, and by 2029, the Congressional Budget Office believes 31,000 will get 9/11-related cancer, the news outlet reported.
A total of 343 members of the FDNY lost their lives at Ground Zero.
Deo and Jones dedicated decades of their lives serving as firefighters with the department. Deo spent much of his 33-year career in Queens at Engines 317 and 289, and a brief period in the Bronx at Engine 42 before he was promoted in 1990 to lieutenant.
Jones, meanwhile, served 20 years as a firefighter at Manhattan’s Ladder 25. Seven members of the department were killed when the World Trade Center’s South Tower collapsed.
The FDNY awarded the 63-year-old three “acts of merit,” throughout his career. The awards are usually reserved for individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty.
A year after the terror attack on the World Trade Center, the pair retired within a month of each other. The deaths of Jones and Deo on Friday marked 218 deaths within the FDNY from 9/11 related illnesses.
As of September 2019, an estimated 2,000 individuals who were part of the rescue and recovery efforts had died from Ground Zero-related sickness, while thousands more are still battling with the illnesses, such as cancer, and severe respiratory disease, reported The Sun.
Workers who were exposed to the air at the site of the attack are more likely to develop certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer and leukemia, a study published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum in February found.
Jones’s wake will be held on Feb. 14 at the Greater Zion Hill Baptist Church from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a memorial service from 5 p.m., according to the Uniformed Firefighters Association.