Diane Cotter
10 min readJun 18, 2023

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Blair Miller: “You’ve probably imagined it’s been strange that every speaker gets up here and talks about Diane cause you haven’t heard from her yet ~ So, it’s funny because when I landed today within fifteen minutes I was asked how this all came to be and we — Graham and I both said — you don’t say no to Diane Cotter” … xo

Blair Miller — photo credit Paul Shea Photography

Jason Burns: “Diane, I’m going of script here a little bit, I often do that I guess, I just want to take an opportunity to say thank you, what you’ve meant to me personally, what you have meant to firefighters — you’ve heard a lot about, what you’ve meant to everybody in this movement. I don’t think I can top anything that was said about you today — it’s all true. Friend to friend I wanted to say thank you — I wanted to say I appreciate you, on behalf of my team here with Last Call Foundation, we have a small token, of appreciation, a gift, thank you for your perseverance, thank you for sticking in this fight, you have changed the lives of firefighters, and you are changing the lives of people all over the world. Thankyou. Thankyou. Thankyou.” xoxo Two Dozen Red Roses… My greatest award.. xoxo

Diane: thank you, thank you everyone, I’m gonna really try to be quick,

I really just have to say one thing, one quick thing to um, you didn’t get to hear something that Nick Papain told me in January when we met —

they did so much work for 9/11 — they stole my heart because of what Nick said, something about the work they did for firefighters in 9/11 was pro-bono, so if that doesn’t tell ya something — i’m gonna really try to be quick here ~ Blair, you — you know — you started this with us and we’re so grateful for you for gong to Notre Dame to see Graham and to interviewing our Senators — and holding — making them hold the line — that they have to replace the gear — this is what he does — and to all of your colleagues we’re so grateful cause we need you to keep the stories going ~

And I have something to tell you, The Hanover is very special to me — I grew up here — My father was the Prince of this Palace for thirty years —

1972, Johnny Dee brings Al Pacino and entourage to the El Morocco in Worcester after 12 weeks of sell-out shows of The Godfather ~

And The Hanover has been part of our story from Day 1 — when we started telling this story here in Worcester —

and of course you saw it (The Hanover) in tonight's film. I’m so grateful for all they’ve done for us.

And Jimmy, (Congressman McGovern) — I can’t see you here with the light but I know that you remember when Paul and used to chase you around every coffee house in your district — You’d say “Diane, you got me! You got me! You just have to get the union behind you! .. Mission accomplished Jim.

Sammy, and Eli, — I just want to thank you because you took an issue and carved out space for us — and I wasn’t prepared for what Congressman McGovern told us this evening ( taking BURNED to Capitol Hill) but it’s truly what I had hoped for —

https://etherealfilms.org/burned/

..and for the gratitude of Last Call Foundation — Kathy really, really, really, held the line and wanted every firehouse to get to see this for free — so please take her up on her offer and get it in all of your firehouses ~

https://www.lastcallfoundation.org/

and to my good friend Rob Bilott, I had no idea you were still so neck deep in your fight in Ohio —

Rob’s response to manufacturers claim PFOA was ‘trace amounts’ in your gear..

but in 2017 you wrote a one-hundred and ninety-five page FIREFIGHTER LETTER to the EPA, CDC, ATSDR and the then US Attorney General stating that you and Fire Chief Jeffrey Hermes would sue them if they didn’t act on behalf of firefighters exposed to PFAS. In 2018 when you firefighters were omitted from the first CDC study on PFAS- because they are occupationally exposed to PFAS- you would write a forty-eight page letter of protest to the CDC director. And when you filed your nationwide lawsuit to sue DuPont, 3M and others for medical monitoring, on behalf of everyone in the USA your plaintiff is Fire Chief Kevin Hardwick. And you included firefighters in your campaign with Mark Ruffalo and EWG — my good friends — to make firefighters part of your campaign for Dark Waters —

From Jason, telling me in 2017 “send me everything you’ve got” to my dear friend Jeff in California, by asking, “why am I hearing about this — no offense — but from a housewife in Massachusetts!!

Jason, you’re the go-to leader on this campaign, and somehow have time for your beautiful wife and 5 daughters..

Jeff, you’ve the specialist industry seeks approval from. You’ve held the line nationally and the NFPA committees and teaching this subject across the USA — and in the worst phase of this war, it was you I leaned on. And you didn’t let me down.

My dear friend Kathy, we’ve had an instant connection, You are the mother of a United States Marine, and a firefighter., and I am the mother of a US Marine and firefighter. When Paul and I came to you in 2018 you did your own research, and you vetted Dr. Peaslee. You educated everyone and anyone who would listen. While I have always been the hype girl on this subject — anyone close to us knows you’re the girl with the big stick.

My dear friend Jon Marr of Station Pride -you had to break the news of this great deception to a league of dismayed firefighters.

You’ve written the Station Pride series with Dr. Peaslee to educate this nation’s firefighters — and while the canvas was rapidly changing with more data, you’d set the ground rules — You couldn’t have known your methods would become the model the fire service didn’t know it needed. You brought the nuclear physicist to firehouse kitchen tables across the nation.

In 2019 we barged our way into mainstream FIRE-media. We would catch the eye of Pj Norwood, and Frank Ricci of Fire Engineering — they would go on to host our entire network of Rob, Graham, firefighters, scientists, on all of the Fire Engineering platforms. All with the approval of Fire Chief Bobby Halton. My dear friend Bobby — is no longer with us — but as editor-in-chief of Fire Engineering, and a man who holds the line on principal and leadership, Bobby had to introduce this subject to his followers — dangerous territory for an editor-in-chief that is funded by the money that we are suing for — people like my husband, Joe Marchetti and others.

Thank you Bobby, Pj, and Frank for doing what had to done.

I got your six Bobby… d

And thank you to the countless media across the nation, from Worcester Telegram to Men’s Health who are telling this story across the nation.

…Graham, you became a first name only in the fire service ‘Graham’.

We devour every article written about you or by you — particularily when you respond to consultants who would attempt to smear you.

We needed a teacher to educate fire families on PFAS in the way that only could be done by you. It’s been one of the highlights of my life to work with you Dr. Peaslee.

And to our General President Ed Kelly There is a new precedent in Labor- because of you — taking on the chemical industry and their cronies that are killing your members. You did not wait until you became President of the IAFF — your work began in your campaign promising to removing the chemical companies from the IAFF and wage war on cancer. You’ve moved this issue forward with rapid fire, and you’ve hand delivered this issue to the desk of President Biden.

You’ve built a brilliant Science and Research Division of Wu, Urwin, and McMillan, who immediately take on every falsehood directed to firefighters by the PFAS manufacturers — publicly — so there is no confusion on where the IAFF stands. You’ve added to that wave by adding three national law firms — who in their first days filed your lawsuit against the NFPA who has held firefighters hostage in Teflon while screaming neutrality.

Godspeed president Kelly.

And thank you President MacKinnon and the PFFM — you were first in the nation to vote unanimously to act on PFAS — and again I saw you testify on Beacon Hill — for continuing to push the legislation we began in 2018 in 191st Session — we are now on Round 3 of testifying on bills we began five years ago.

To my husband, we would give anything for you to be back on the job — you never wanted this fight or to be known for this — but because of you — this has happened. From your retirement party speech where you preached early detection saved your life, to coaching every firefighter that calls you because they’ve been diagnosed with cancer..

I know why the men and women of Worcester fire look up to you so.. because I’ve worked by your side in this for 9 years I’ve gotten to witness it myself. I could not be prouder to be your wife.

Thank you Blair..

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Diane Cotter

A very private individual who fell into a very public rabbit hole of epic proportions. I call it the #greatestdeceptionever - really, EVER.