“Do the right thing, even when no one is looking,” words you’d often hear from Ray Pfeifer. A member of the FDNY since 1987, Ray was golfing with other FDNY firefighters the morning of September 11, 2001. When he learned of the attacks, Ray went to his firehouse at Engine 40/Ladder 35, grabbed his gear, and spent the next eight months searching and digging at Ground Zero. All 11 members of his Manhattan firehouse who responded to the call were killed. In 2009, Ray was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer resulting from his work at the World Trade Center site. With federal benefits on the verge of expiring, Ray, in his wheelchair, led a small contingent to Washington, DC in 2015 to challenge lawmakers. Ray fought for health care benefits from the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to be extended for September 11th first responders, and succeeded. Ray passed away on May 28, 2017.
Now The Ray Pfeifer Foundation, started by other FDNY first responders, is helping 9/11 first responders with medical needs not covered by insurance. In 2019, the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11 Victim Compensation Act” was passed to provide financial support for 9/11 responders, survivors and their families. While these bills are helpful, there are gaps and long waits to receive compensation. The Ray Pfeifer Foundation is helping people right now.