The 43-year-old — who worked on FDNY fire boats — died Monday of a brain tumor stemming from his time at Ground Zero.
For Alexander, succumbing to a 9/11 illness is a heartbreaking family affair — a year earlier, his father Lt. Raymond Alexander, died of cancers linked to his time on the pile, FDNY sources said.
“World Trade Center illnesses continue to take the lives of far too many FDNY members, now including two generations of the Alexander family — a father and son who served so bravely, for so long,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Wednesday.
Alexander and his dad are the first father and son to die from 9/11-related illnesses.
FDNY Firefighter Joseph Angelini Sr., 63, and his namesake, Joseph Angelini Jr., 38, both died when the Twin Towers collapsed.
The Bronx man responded to the scene and spent several weeks sifting through the rubble at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, where the remains of the decimated buildings were warehoused.
His mother, Ginger Alexander, said her son desperately searched for his best friend Firefighter Sean Tallon, who perished in the attack.
“He and Sean both wanted to be in the fire department, but Sean got their first,” she remembered. “But he was down there as a cop, looking for Sean and Sean’s car.”
“(Robert) was a special boy from the moment he was born,” she recalled. “He was my baby.”
Alexander joined the FDNY in January, 2002.
In 2014, toxins he inhaled from his time at Ground Zero manifested into an inoperable pea-sized brain tumor.
Whenever he could, he traveled to Washington, D.C., to push for the renewal of the Zadroga Act to provide health care and financial assistance to sickened first responders.
With his urging, Congress renewed the Zadroga Act, extending its coverage for the next 75 years.
“Bobby fought for the Zadroga Act and made many trips down to D.C.,” said United Firefighters Association President Gerard Fitzgerald. “He should be hailed a hero, besides being a firefighter, for what he has done for so many first responders.”
“Most people couldn’t fathom losing a father or a son, but to lose two family members in a year is horrific,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a terrible loss for the Alexander family.”