On the eve of the six-month anniversary of the terrorist attack that killed 347 of its members at the World Trade Center, the International Association of Fire Fighters and its two New York affiliates are distributing the remaining proceeds from the New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund.
To date, the non-profit Fund has distributed $144 million to the families of the New York fire fighters killed in the line of duty at the World Trade Center, including the latest distribution of nearly $33 million. This distribution will provide an additional $95,000 to each family, bringing the disbursements from the fund to $413,000 per family.
The 9-11 Fund directors, composed of the presidents and treasurers of the International Association of Fire Fighters and its two New York locals - the Uniformed Firefighters Association Local 94 and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association Local 854, voted to make the latest disbursement at a meeting late Thursday. The Fund was created on September 12 to deal with the unprecedented tragedy faced by the fire fighters union and the families of the fallen FDNY personnel.
IAFF President Harold Schaitberger, who also serves as president of the 9-11 Fund, said, "The outpouring of support, generosity, and compassion from the public and the corporate community will never be forgotten by this nation's fire fighters. We thank the American people from the bottom of our hearts."
Following the largest loss of life in the history of the fire service, the 9-11 Fund moved quickly to put needed assistance into the hands of the families of the fallen FDNY personnel, Schaitberger said. Within 10 days of the September 11 tragedy, the Fund provided each family with $10,000. The families received another $10,000 within three weeks, another $25,000 before Thanksgiving, and a disbursement of $278,000 before Christmas. Checks for the latest disbursement of $95,000 are being prepared today at IAFF headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"No amount of money can repay these widows and families for the sacrifice they've made," said Uniformed Firefighters Association Local 94 President Kevin Gallagher. "We can only try as best we can to help them go on with their lives, despite their deep and permanent loss."
Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Local 854 President Peter Gorman said the union was able to act rapidly to assist the families. "I am proud that our 9-11 Fund was able to move quickly to put much needed funds in the hands of the families," he said.
The quarter-million fire fighters and paramedics who belong to the IAFF across the U.S. and Canada have collected more than 70 percent of money raised by Fund. Major corporations, retailers, individuals, web sites, fire fighters from across the world, and other labor unions also contributed to the Fund. Fund supporters have ranged from celebrities and foreign governments to elementary school children collecting pennies. IAFF members stood at street corners and shopping malls across the United States and Canada and the public responded, Schaitberger said.
When the Fund was created, the board of directors made a firm decision not to conduct advertising, solicitations, or marketing activities to promote the fund. Administrative costs for the 9-11 Fund are expected to equal less than one-quarter of one percent because IAFF staff managed the project and most outside assistance was provided on a pro bono basis.
The IAFF (www.iaff.org) has more than 2,700 affiliates, representing fire fighters in nearly 4,000 communities. The 250,000 members of the IAFF are the nation's full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics and protect the lives and property of 80 percent of the nation's population.