JERSEY CITY, N.J. (WCBS 880) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday signed new legislation enhancing protections for first responders, including those who volunteered for 9/11 rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts at World Trade Center sites.
Under the Bill Ricci World Trade Center Rescue, Recovery, and Cleanup Operations Act – first responders who volunteered at Ground Zero would be eligible for a disability pension in New Jersey.
The second bill – the Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act – reforms New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law to create a rebuttable presumption of coverage for public safety workers for certain illnesses.
“Thousands of courageous volunteers put their lives on the line in order to save those affected by the devastation of 9/11,” Gov. Murphy said in a statement. “We will never forget their selfless acts of heroism, just as we will always be grateful for the first responders who put their lives on the line for us every day.”
The first bill is named after Bill Ricci, a Clifton firefighter who assisted in rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center. Eighteen years later he has been diagnosed with a respiratory disease that he said leaves him unable to meet the physical demands of his job.
But because Ricci wasn’t on official duty when he volunteered at Ground Zero, he says he doesn’t qualify for an accidental disability pension, which equal to two-thirds of his salary.
The second bill is named after Deputy Chief Thomas P. Canzanella, a former Hackensack firefighter and advocate who served at Ground Zero after 9/11 and passed away from a heart attack at the age of 50.
Both bills passed out of the state Senate and Assembly on Thursday. The state Senate voted 36-0 in favor of the bill and the Assembly 76-0 at the Statehouse in Trenton.
Murphy's signing was held at 11 a.m. Monday and streamed live on YouTube.