SENATOR BALL FIGHTS TO CORRECT INJUSTICE FOR CHILDREN OF 9-11 FIRST RESPONDERS
[Front row from left to right: James Sullivan, Jennifer McNamara, Christopher Horgan, Norman R. Cerullo, Senator Greg Ball, Larry Sullivan Jr., Rich Palmer and John Feal]
Albany, N.Y. – (6/17/13) – Senator Greg Ball (R,C,I-Patterson) announced that he is co-sponsoring S5585, legislation to rectify an injustice to the children of New York police officers and firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice in response to the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
The bill clarifies existing law by defining the term “killed in the line of duty” to include deaths that were the natural and proximate result of either the attacks on September 11, 2001 or participating in the rescue effort that was conducted in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Senator Ball recently met with James and Larry Sullivan Jr. Their father, Larry Sullivan Sr., from Rescue Co. 5, was a FDNY responder on September 11, 2001. Mr. Sullivan spent days sifting through rubble searching for his lost FDNY brothers and continued that service for a decade after 9/11, exposing himself to all the harmful elements in the ruins.
“In April 2011, my father was diagnosed with a rare intestinal cancer which was directly related to his time spent at ground zero. When my father passed he was still an active member of the FDNY. The fire department recognized his death as line of duty. This recognition led to my two brothers and I receiving a letter from the FDNY awarding us legacy points towards the exam we took in April 2012. With our list numbers, my brothers and I looked forward to starting the process in becoming firefighters. Until the three of us received a devastating letter from the fire department stating that our claim for legacy points did not meet the requirements and our points were taken away from us. Our hearts were broken. The first thing that came to my mind was, ‘is my father’s death not worthy enough to get legacy points?’, said James Sullivan. “I now feel my father’s death is being tarnished and not honored. All my brothers and I want is to follow in our father’s footsteps and honor him by becoming firefighters.”
James and Larry Sullivan, who wish to follow in their father’s footsteps and serve in the FDNY, were both denied from legacy point eligibility. In a May 30, 2013 letter by the FDNY Bureau of Personnel to both children, the FDNY has interpreted N.Y. Cvs. Law § 85a to exclude the children of firefighters killed as the result of their rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero from legacy point eligibility.
“We lost so many brave souls on 9-11 and we still reel from those senseless murders by gutless cowards. What some do not know is that many of those brave enough to respond and blessed enough to survive on 9-11 are suffering and dying from ailments connected to their time spent at and around Ground Zero. Many sucked in a ‘witches brew’ of poisons destroying their bodies. We must honor their sacrifice by giving their children the same opportunity we currently give to children of EMT’s and siblings of police officers and firefighters who were killed the day of,” said Senator Greg Ball. “Often times, legacy points make the difference between these deserving candidates languishing on civil service lists for years or being selected to fulfill their dreams of following in their fallen parent’s footsteps in becoming first responders.”
Incidentally, another family with the same last name is experiencing the same troubles as James and Larry Sullivan. John and Michael Sullivan are the sons of John Sullivan Sr., who worked in Ladder Co. 34, and made the ultimate sacrifice less than 90 days after retiring. He died of pancreatic cancer due to his work at the World Trade Center during the rescue and recovery efforts before ever receiving his first pension check.
“I am not naïve; I know many children lost their parents that day and that many more continue to lose their parents every day as result of this horrible tragedy. I am not looking for preferential treatment, but for equal treatment. There is a tragic disconnect between the observation of those who died that terrible day and those who have died every day since,” said John Sullivan Jr., son of John Sullivan Sr. from Ladder Co. 34, “I cannot adequately express my gratitude to both Senator Ball and Senator Golden, they have provided a glimmer of hope in what once appeared insurmountable.”
Currently, in recognition of the ultimate sacrifices of their parents, children of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty who wish to honor their fallen parents by joining police and fire departments are awarded additional “legacy” points on civil service examinations (N.Y. Cvs. Law § 85a). Siblings of police officers and firefighters who were killed in the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 or as the result of their participation in the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero in the aftermath of that horrific attack are granted those same legacy points (N.Y. Cvs. Law § 85b). And children of emergency medical technicians (“EMTs”) killed in the September 11th attack or as the result of their rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero also are granted legacy points (N.Y. Cvs. Law § 85c).
However, due to what appears to be a perfect storm of imprecisely drafted previously passed legislation, unfortunate oversight and/or regrettable bureaucratic interpretation of the current laws, children of firefighters killed as the result of their rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero who have taken the FDNY civil service examination have recently been stripped of their legacy points and pushed back in the candidate list.
For more information, please contact Joe Bachmeier: (845) 200-9716.