John Farina got the call to join the FDNY in the summer of 1983, while he was in school to become a hairdresser. It was his father, a Korean War veteran and an over 50-year member of the Cement and Concrete Workers Local 6A, who signed him up.
“I thought he was trying to kill me,” he joked. “He was a great union man and an even better person.”
Farina’s first assignment was at Ladder 260 in Long Island City, where he stayed until 1986. For the next 26 years, he worked throughout Brooklyn and Queens, rising through the ranks until he was promoted to Captain in 2006. In 2008, he took full duty detail in the Counseling Service Unit (CSU) and Day Treatment Program (DTP), where he helped firefighters and their families.
“When someone called for help–it wasn’t a civilian any longer,” he said. “It was a member, a brother, a sister, father, mother, or family member of an FDNY Firefighter or EMS who needed help.”
Farina was elected to the Uniformed Fire Officers Association Executive Board in 2013, where he was Captain’s Representative and assigned to the Pension Board. He was also Labor Management Chairman.
“Some of the most notable things that John had did was he lead the fight for the reauthorization of the Zadroga Act,” said Jake Lemonda, President of the UFOA. “That gives our members at the World Trade Center health benefits.”
Lemonda nominated Farina for the LaborPress Heroes of Labor Award as an “outstanding labor leader through all his efforts for the past six years on the Executive Board.”
Farina, who retired in September, recalled how rewarding working with firefighters and their families was.
“Working at CSU and DTP was experiencing every client’s pain and suffering, joy and happiness and thanking God for the opportunity to do so.”