Heartland fire chief responds to Congress not extending 9/11 hea - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Heartland fire chief responds to Congress not extending 9/11 healthcare bill


They're the heroes that we look for in the time of need, but are often the ones forgotten once the smoke clears.

"They're always remembered in emergency, but when that emergency is over with they're not remembered at all," East County Fire Chief Dwayne Kirchhoff said.

Chief Kirchhoff said congress not wanting to extend the health care bill for first responders of 9/11 is disheartening.

"They always seem to find money for the things that they want," Kirchoff said. "We can always find money to send to people overseas, but they forget about the people at home that protect and serve."

Former host of "The Daily Show" and advocate for the bill, Jon Stewart, made a surprise return to voice his frustrations with lawmakers.

"These first responders many, sick with cancers and pulmonary disease have had to travel to Washington, D.C. at their own expense, hundreds of times to pled for our government to do the right thing," Stewart said.

An emotional moment came when Stewart revisited the same desk that he and four first responders sat to discuss the bill in 2010.

In 2015, only one of the four is still able to advocate for the bill.

"Two of the people have illnesses and, John Devlin, who sat at the last chair, an operating engineer, passed away," Kenny Specht said. "So I think we brought the stats to show when we did the show five and a half years ago, four men sat here. It's just you and I." 

In southeast Missouri, two of the three members of congress support the bill.

In southern Illinois, all three members of congress are in favor.

While in Kentucky, none of the three congressmen supports the bill.

Chief Kirchoff said congressmen should consider who and why they were elected.

"When our tones go off, we respond, and we do it with all diligence, no matter what the case," Kirchoff said. "My response to them is, we elected you to do a job for us and respond for us, so why do you hold back on that?"

To see if your lawmakers support this bill, click here.

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