There were 343 FDNY members killed in the Sept. 11,...

There were 343 FDNY members killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Credit: Greentree Foundation / Viorel Florescu

The 342nd and 343rd FDNY personnel died last week of 9/11-related illnesses — meaning there have now been as many FDNY deaths post-Sept. 11, 2001, as on the day of the attacks themselves, the department announced.

The grim milestone was announced this weekend by New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh in a statement sent by the department news office.

"We have long known this day was coming, yet its reality is astounding just the same," the statement said, disclosing that emergency medical technician Hilda Vannata died Wednesday of cancer, and on Saturday morning, retired firefighter Robert Fulco died of pulmonary fibrosis.

The department said that both workers' illnesses were due to the time they spent at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of the attacks.

"With these deaths, we have reached a somber, remarkable milestone. We have now suffered the same number of deaths post September 11th as we experienced that day when the north and south towers fell. Our hearts break for the families of these members, and all who loved them," the statement said.

There are about 11,000 FDNY personnel with 9/11-related illnesses, including 3,500 with cancer, the department said.

The commissioner's statement said: "343 of our heroes lost in one day, and today, 343 more." For over two decades, the number "343" has been emblazoned on FDNY firetrucks, firehouses, clothing, and memorials.

Almost all of the New York Fire Department personnel who died on Sept. 11, 2001, were firefighters; some were their supervisors; several of the dead were medics, fire marshals and a chaplain.

The “toxic cocktail” of chemicals in gas and dust in the air at Ground Zero in the months after the attacks has sickened thousands, Newsday has reported. Those chemicals are known to cause cancer, autoimmune disease and neurodegenerative processes.

It’s not just first responders who are at risk for, and who have been sickened by, 9/11-related ailments.

First responders, laborers, workers and volunteers have died, and about 30% of the dead are from Long Island, John Feal, a first responder from Nesconset who lost half of his left foot after working to clear the rubble, told Newsday earlier this month.

And for the attacks’ 22nd anniversary, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation to raise awareness of federal aid to 9/11 survivors.

The new law requires businesses near the World Trade Center that had personnel return after the attacks to notify them of their potential eligibility for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund as well as the World Trade Center Health Program. The law covers businesses with 50 or more workers who worked in the so-called “disaster area” between Sept. 11, 2001, and May 2002.

Less than 10% of a pool of 400,000 potentially eligible workers have enrolled in those programs, compared with 85% of eligible cops and firefighters, Michael Barasch, managing partner at the Manhattan law firm Barasch & McGarry, which represents those seeking 9/11-related compensation, told Newsday last month.

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