Rob Serra is America’s leading advocate for firefighters and first-responders. A renowned activist, technical expert and father of three, Rob was born and raised in Staten Island, NY. He began his firefighting career with the FDNY in July 2001 just six weeks after graduating from college. And his first day in the field was September 11th. While he was not scheduled to work that Tuesday, he, along with thousands of others, reported to the World Trade Center to help with the aftermath of the attacks.
A sense of duty is in his DNA. Generations of his family have served the City Of New York in different capacities, and he is the fourth member of his family to serve in the FDNY. His brother Andrew currently serves as captain of Ladder Company 20 in the Soho district of Manhattan.
After a short but action packed career, he was forced to retire in 2012 because of illnesses caused by the toxins at Ground Zero. He remained active in the community volunteering as a high school/youth hockey coach. In 2014 he began working on Social Media to raise awareness for the impending expiration of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. In 2015, after Congress allowed the bill to expire Serra joined other advocates and began lobbying in Washington for a permanent extension. Using the experience he gained in 1999 while interning for a Member of Parliament through the University of London, Serra quickly made his presence known. In December 2015 Congress extended the health care portion of the bill for 75 years. However, the compensation portion was only extended for five.
In 2017 following the death of his friend and mentor FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer, Serra helped create the Ray Pfeifer Foundation. As is the case with most health insurance, there is plenty not covered by the WTC health program. The RPF helps fill in the gaps for those that responded to the September 11th attacks. They provide such things as motorized wheelchairs, portable oxygen tanks, experimental cancer treatments, home hospice care and more.
By late 2018 it became clear that the 9/11 VCF would not have sufficient funding to last until the 2020 expiration. Consequently it was obvious that 9/11 Illnesses would continue to pile up for survivors and first responders. Serra rejoined the team of advocates and began lobbying for a permanent extension. He worked his way up the ladder to a leadership position and would go on to lead hundreds of meetings in Washington. Along with others, Serra would help get the VCF extended until 2090 with complete bipartisan support. He can be seen standing next to the President as he signed the bill into law.
He has appeared on NBC Nightly News, CNN New Day, CNN Newsroom, Fox and Friends, Fox News, NHL Network among others.
Serra suffers from a slew of 9/11 illnesses as well as injuries he sustained while fighting fires. While his body may be disabled, he remains dedicated to using his voice to advocate for 9/11 first responders and survivors.
He now lives in New Jersey with his wife Kristen and their three children.
• Retired FDNY Firefighter (Squad 18, Ladder 108 and Engine 216).
• Served on the FDNY Special Operations Command Task Force and FEMA USAR NYTF1.
• Founding board member of The Ray Pfeifer Foundation.
• FDNY Hockey Team Alumni
• Northwood School ‘97
• Hobart College ‘01