23 January 2011

9/11 Hero Leaves Legacy Following Cancer Battle


Firefighter Roy Chelsen died from bone-marrow cancer believed caused by his time at Ground Zero.
BY HEATHER CASPI and SUSAN NICOL - Firehouse.com News

Posted: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:40am
Updated: Wed, 01/19/2011 - 11:29am

An FDNY firefighter and 9/11 response hero passed away on Jan. 9 after battling bone-marrow cancer believed to be caused by his time at Ground Zero.

Roy Chelsen of Engine 28 is credited by his colleagues for saving numerous members of his company by ushering them out of the North Tower before its collapse. He was also known by many in the fire service for his efforts to establish a registry of potential bone-marrow donors both for himself and for others.

The date of his death was 1/9/11, a poignant coincidence, noted friend and colleague Kevin Murray.

"Personally, he saved my life on 9/11 so I have a different feeling about Roy than most guys. He was probably the toughest guy in the firehouse," Murray said. "To see him get stricken was a big deal to us."

Chelsen retired in 2006 due to the cancer, and his death came despite the discovery of a long sought-after match and transplant administered on Dec. 3, 2010. He was 51.

"We thought he would pull out of it but it didn't work out that way," Murray said.

Fellow firefighter Bob Alverson added, "He fought harder than I ever saw anyone fight for anything, and never complained about anything." He would get chemotherapy one day and be out chopping wood the next, Alverson said.

Chelsen had wanted the registry efforts to continue on to help others, so those friends and family involved hope to do so in some form, Murray said. There are a few thousand people on the registry now, he said.

Chelsen was also on the forefront of trying to get legislation passed so other people wouldn't have to go through what he did, Alverson said. His death came just eight days after the signing of President Obama's 9/11 bill to provide five years of free healthcare and compensation to thousands of sick responders and survivors.

Within weeks after Sept.11, FDNY had established an office to track personnel health for those worried about what they may have came in contact with, said Jim Long, an FDNY spokesman.

To date, Chelsen and 25 other FDNY firefighters and one FDNY EMS provider who were sickened at the World Trade Center site are receiving benefits from the department. Two other cases are pending, he said.

On Monday, Chelsen's name was added to the USFA on-duty firefighter database -- a first for a firefighter cancer death.

"Some people use the word 'hero' very easily," Murray said, "but Roy definitely was a hero."

FDNY Firefighter Who Worked at WTC Site Dies

A retired FDNY firefighter who spent two months in the remains of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks died of lung disease Tuesday, according to The Daily News.

William Quick, 55, worked at Ground Zero every day from Sept. 12, 2001 until mid-November that year after he blew out his knee.

The USFA has listed Quick's death on its memorial database. This year the agency has begun to announce illness-related deaths attributed to time spent working the WTC following the attacks. The death of former FDNY Firefighter Roy Chelsen also was listed after he succumbed to cancer on Jan. 9.

Quick's family told The Daily News that shortly after he returned to work in January 2002, he started to develop lung infections.

By the next year, the lung disease forced the 23-year veteran into retirement.

"They told him he had to retire, which he never wanted to do," his wife, Lisa Quick, told the newspaper.

She said she is glad Congress passed the 9/11 Health Bill last month.

"I hope that maybe it will help my children, because I don't know what happens now."

Before his death, William Quick was hooked up to an oxygen machine around the clock.

Quick is survived by his wife and twin sons.

A wake will be held Thursday, Jan. 20 and Friday, Jan. 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Macken Mortuary in Island Park on Long Island.

His funeral is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22 at 9 a.m. at St. Ignatius Martyr in Long Beach on Long Island.