My dad, Joseph Ferrugia, was a brave firefighter not just at work, but also at home. One night when I was young, our toaster caught on fire, and my dad grabbed it and threw it outside into the snow to save the day. At my school each year there would be fire safety assemblies and contests for drawing a fire escape plan, and without a doubt, every time, my dad helped me win first place and get a cool shirt or prize.
My dad started his 30-year firefighting career at Ladder 142 in Ozone Park, Queens. During his career he was cited twice for bravery, at a fire on July 3, 1999, and again on November 3, 2012. On the morning of September 11, 2001, my dad was working his side job as a painter and was called in to respond at the World Trade Center. He quickly responded and arrived at the site just as Building 7 started to tumble. He ran into a deli to take cover and quickly called my mom to tell her and the children that he loved us. He didn’t think he was coming home that day. My father then spent 24-hour shifts for the next few months on the recovery mission.
After 9/11, my dad was called to be part of the new Rebreather 1 Company located at Ladder 20 in Manhattan. There he served in a critical support role, training members and responding to incidents where firefighters would take part in extended emergency operations underground and in tunnels. Rebreather masks absorb carbon dioxide from the user’s breath and recycle unused oxygen, which makes them essential for emergencies that may take hours to resolve. During a shift in January 2021 my dad became ill with COVID-19 and was the first active FDNY firefighter to die due to the virus.
My dad loved sports, especially wrestling, tennis, golf, and paddleball. He was always teaching me and my siblings, Allie and Matthew, how to ride bikes, throw a perfect pitch, or a Tiger Woods golf swing. His friends at Ladder 142 called him “Bo Knows” because he was proficient at every sport he picked up. He played ice hockey with the FDNY hockey team and coached wrestling at Massapequa High School for many years with great success. My dad loved music, especially Meatloaf, Neil Diamond, and Cher. Every time my siblings and I would pile into his car to go out for mini golf or a family dinner, we would all sing along to his CDs. My dad was the friendliest man alive, and almost everyone in town was someone he knew and could converse with for hours. He will be greatly missed and remembered forever. As my father’s oldest child, I am honored to represent him and tell his story.
I’m so sorry for your loss, we’re your grandparents Helen and Sal??? If so we are related. Emily farrugia was my great grandmother– Pat vasquez