www.mirror.co.uk – January 31, 2017
by KATHY ARMSTRONGSTEPHEN JONES
A heroic 9/11 firefighter has become the 124th officer to die as a result of breathing in the toxic air at the Twin Towers.
Brian J Masterson worked tirelessly at the scene of the terrorist attack in New York on the day the planes struck the World Trade Center in 2001 – and for months afterwards also.
The 61-year-old father-of-three and keen marathon runner died this week from esophageal cancer – which was directly linked to him being exposed to the dust at Ground Zero.
Brian is one of numerous first responders who’ve been diagnosed with the disease as a direct result of their selfless actions.
Tributes have been paid to a “dedicated” Irish firefighter originally from the close-knit village of Lissavaddy, Co Longford, Ireland – whose funeral was held on Friday in his adoptive home of Walden, New York.
Brian was described by one colleague as the “Captain of his soul and of the hearts of those who knew him”.
Claudia E. Thomas, Founder of the 9/11 Rescue Workers and Friends Forum Group, spoke movingly of Brian’s legacy.
She said: “9/11 FDNY Responder Brian Masterson was the Captain of his soul and of the hearts of those who knew him.
“A member of Engine 93 Ladder 45 Battalion 13 in Washington Heights, and later Marine 9 (Fireboat II).
“His life was dedicated to the job he loved and started out in back in 1990 and survived several life threatening emergencies.
“But such is the metal of one like Brian, who passed January 22, 2017, from related cancer, age 61. ‘Fair winds and following seas’ brother!”
James Slevin, President of the Unified Fire Authority, also highlighted that 124 firefighters have now died in the 15 years since the attacks.
He said: “As a result of the 9/11 attacks on our nation, our New York City Firefighters have been getting sick and dying in high numbers due to cancers and other diseases caused by breathing the toxic air at the World Trade Center.
“The deaths of Ret. FF. Brian Masterson and FF. Kevin Rooney are unfortunate reminders that New York City Firefighters and other first responders continue to suffer from the aftermaths of 9/11.
“More than 15 years after the tragic event, 124 firefighters and fire officers have passed away due to 9/11-related illnesses.”
Brian is survived by his beloved wife Mary Masterson, daughters Barbara and Shanon Masterson, son Joseph Masterson, granddaughter Sienna and extended family.
He was an avid golfer and runner, he completed the NYC Marathon several times.
His nephew Christopher Ferry spoke to The Longford Leader about Masterson’s illness.
He said: “Unfortunately, my uncle Brian was diagnosed with esophageal cancer two years ago as a result.
“The number of firefighters and other first responders being diagnosed with cancer as a direct result of working so many days at the site of the Twin Towers has been constantly growing to this very day.
“My uncle fought very hard for two years overcoming the odds, and died on Sunday night with his family by his side.”