NEW YORK (WABC) -- More than two decades after the 9/11 attacks, the number of firefighters and EMTs who have died from 9/11-related illnesses now matches the number of first responders killed that day.
The recent deaths of two more members of the FDNY brought the total number of FDNY members lost since 9/11 to 343.
EMT Hilda Vannata and retired firefighter Robert Fulco are the 342nd and 343rd FDNY members to die from 9/11-related illnesses.
"With these deaths, we have reached a somber, remarkable milestone. We have now suffered the same number of deaths post September 11th as we experienced that day when the north and south towers fell. Our hearts break for the families of these members, and all who love them," FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh wrote in a post online.
Union leaders said Monday on average, they are losing three or four first responders a month from 9/11-related illnesses.
The FDNY says Vannata died from cancer on Sept. 20 and Fulco died Sunday morning from pulmonary fibrosis.
The department said there are 11,000 members who continue to suffer from diseases they developed from 9/11 and the exposure to harmful toxins at Ground Zero, including 3,500 with cancer.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association and Uniformed Fire Officers Association say the growing death toll should serve as a grim reminder that this is not over 22 years later and support is still needed.
"On September 11th for most people it's a part of history, for New York City firefighters it continues to be an ongoing tragedy as we care for our sick and continue to bury our dead," said Andrew Ansbro, President of the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association.
On Monday, FDNY leaders called on the federal government to provide more financial support to the World Trade Center Health Registry. They say last year there was a request for more than $2 billion but only $600 million was provided.
Without proper funding they say the health program becomes understaffed and results in a lack of timely medical attention for first responders.
"We certainly have accepted the challenge that's been put in front of us, we are certainly willing to care for our people in the process, and we have certainly done this with dignity the entire time, but we can't do it without support, we can't do it if the narrative fades into the backdrop and we certainly can't do it if the funding doesn't come to treat these people," said James Brosi, President of the FDNY Uniformed Fire Officers Association.