Photo credit: Michael Hnatov
Accession Number: C.2020.74.2
Credit Line: Gift of Firefighter Rob Serra
Black zip-up collared sweatshirt. A Maltese cross emblem is embroidered in white on the left breast with "SQ-18" embroidered in center. "F.D." is embroidered in red in the top cross arm, "N.Y." in embroidered in the bottom cross arm, an image of a hook and ladder is in the left cross arm, and an image of a fire hydrant in the right cross arm. "SERRA" is embroidered in white on the right breast. An "A" Avengers logo pin is attached to the right upper breast of the sweatshirt. The FDNY uniform patch is attached to the left upper sleeve and an FDNY 9/11 commemorative patch is attached to the right upper sleeve. "FDNY" is printed in white text on the back of the sweatshirt.
Robert Serra was an FDNY probationary firefighter having just completed the FDNY Academy on September 10th. He deployed to Ground Zero on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. Serra, who had never previously responded to any fire or other emergency, worked at Ground Zero overnight and returned home exhausted the next morning. Serra was subsequently detailed to Ladder 136 in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens and continued to work during the rescue and recovery period at Ground Zero. Serra retired from the FDNY in December 2012 due to 9/11-related health problems, suffering from breathing problems (including diminished lung capacity by October 2001), sinus infections, and sinus polyps.
Serra became involved with John Feal's FealGood Foundation to advocate for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (2015) and the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (2019). Serra went on organized trips to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress who did not support the proposed legislation. During Serra’s multiple lobbying expeditions to Washington D.C. with the FealGood Foundation delegation in 2018 and 2019, he made a habit of wearing the Squad 18 cap and a navy-colored FDNY “job shirt” (a lightweight, zipped sweatshirt jacket). This informal uniform immediately identified him as a New York City first responder in the halls of Congress, as he made the rounds to meet with elected officials and their office staff about the plight of those suffering from debilitating and in certain cases, fatal toxin-linked illnesses arising from their work at Ground Zero.