ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The names of 112 New York City firefighters who died of illnesses after spending time working in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks were added Tuesday to a memorial in the state's capital city for firefighters killed in the line of duty.
The Fire Department of New York firefighters make up most of the 118 new names etched onto to the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial located in the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany.
Thousands of people who participated in the rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Center have been diagnosed with illnesses that their doctors or families suspect might be linked to toxins in the smoke and ash at the Lower Manhattan site. Research continues into the long-term health impact on people exposed to sooty air at the Trade Center site.
"We still have many of our members dealing with illnesses as a result of their response and work at Ground Zero," said James Long, an FDNY spokesman.
The New York' Police Department and FDNY also have memorials for personnel who have died of illnesses since Sept. 11, 2001.
It wasn't clear from FDNY officials why the 112 firefighters were added now to the 19-year-old memorial. The names include FDNY firefighters who died as along ago as 2003 and others who passed away as recently as this past April.
Kristen Devoe, a spokeswoman for the state agency that determines whose names are placed on the memorial, said this year was the first time the FDNY had applied to include firefighters who died of illnesses after working at Ground Zero. The 112 FDNY firefighters whose deaths were blamed on post-9/11 illnesses met the agency's selection criteria for inclusion on the memorial, she said.
Several busloads of FDNY members attended the ceremony along with scores of professional and volunteer firefighters from across the state.
Other firefighters added to the memorial include three from upstate New York, two from Long Island and a New York City battalion chief killed in a building explosion in 2016.
The names of more than 2,500 fallen firefighters now grace the 54-foot-by-15-foot high granite memorial, dedicated in October 1998. The earliest name on the wall is from 1811. In October 2002, 13 months after the 9/11 attacks, the names of 343 FDNY members killed in the attacks on the Twin Towers were added.
Tuesday's addition of 118 names was the largest group added to the wall since then. Typically a handful of names are added during the annual ceremony held during Fire Prevention Week.