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Zadroga Bill Champion Loses Battle With 9/11 Related Illness

January 30, 2013 – The IAFF is sad to report the passing of retired Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA) of New York Local 854 member Marty Fullam. Not only was he a 9/11 responder and 24-year veteran fire fighter, but Fullam worked tirelessly to ensure the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to help fire fighters, who – like himself – became sick from inhaling toxins at Ground Zero.

“Marty Fullam never let anything get in the way of helping his brothers and sisters,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “Because of his testimony and determination, legislation to help all first responders who are sick after responding to the World Trade Center terrorists attacks is in place. On behalf of the IAFF, our thoughts and prayers are now with the family.”

“Brother Fullam was a fighter, always putting others before himself,” says Local 854 President Al Hagan. “It was an honor to have known him. He will be missed.”

Fullam became a fire fighter with the Fire Department of New York and a member of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) Local 94 in 1981. He served on Engine 14 in Manhattan, Ladder 87 in Annadale and Ladder 111 in Brooklyn before he was promoted to lieutenant and became a member of Local 854 in 2003.

On September 11, 2001, Fullam was not on duty, but he responded to the terrorists’ attack on the World Trade Center with his brother David Fullam and hundreds of other FDNY anyway. He also worked several weeks at the site through the rescue and recovery efforts.

The symptoms of the lung illness that Fullam contracted as a result developed gradually, and Fullam began to notice something was wrong and was having increasing difficulties breathing.

In 2005, he was diagnosed with polymyositis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s muscle tissues. It is so rare that only one in 100,000 people have this diagnosis. Simultaneously, Fullam was also diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which causes scarring in the lungs.

His diagnosis came two years after the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund – which provides financial relief for injury and death claims related to the terrorist attack response – was closed.

Fullam emerged as a champion of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which calls for medical monitoring and treatment for ailing 9/11 responders. It was first introduced in 2006, and included the reopening of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Fullam traveled frequently to Washington, DC, to testify before Congress in support of the legislation. “Marty never complained about how sick he was,” says Local 854 Treasurer Eddie Boles, who accompanied Fullam several times. “He always just said that he would do whatever was needed.”

New York congressional leaders recognized his efforts by inviting him to attend the president’s State of the Union address in 2006 and 2007.
Meanwhile, Fullam’s condition deteriorated, forcing him to retire on disability. By 2007, his lungs were operating at 30 percent capacity and was needed a lung transplant, which he had 2009.

The single transplant helped for about a year, but complications developed. He would need another transplant to survive. He went to Duke University in North Carolina for several weeks of rehabilitation, hoping to become healthy enough for the transplant. However, he was denied.

Since the Zadroga act did not pass in 2006, it was reintroduced in 2010, and became law in 2010. The first 15 claimants of the Victims’ Compensation Fund received benefits this year. It is not known at this time if the Fullam family will be among them.

Fullam is survived by his mother Helen Fullam, his brothers David and Joseph, his sisters Deborah Turkovic and Carol Johnson, his wife Patricia, and his daughters Kelly, Caroline and Emma.

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