On March 23,1934 the honorable John J, McElligott, Fire Chief and Commissioner and the Honorable Deputy Fire Commissioner Francis X. Giaccono approved a request made by Fire Captain John Capillo of Engine 28. The nature of the request was as follows: I herewith submit for your approval, a brief to be used by myself and other members of this department, for the purpose of instructing people of this city, what to do in case of fire.
What prompted Captain Capillo to make such a request was his concern about the serious losses of life from recent fires in tenement houses and especially among Italian Occupants. He formed a group of fire department members of Italian extraction who could understand and speak the Italian language. This group of men under the instruction of Captain Capillo adopted a set of simple rules, which would instruct these recent immigrants on what to do in case of a fire, which could save their lives.
The original group present on that day with the fire Commissioner were: Commissioner Giaccone, Captain Capillo, Lieutenant Nicholas J. DiGiacomp of Engine 66, Fireman Anthony Pepe of Engine 17 and Fireman Charles Pentola of Engine Company 19.
This concern for the citizens of the city became the impetus, which started the Columbia Association. Though through the past seventy years we have seen many changes in the world, in the fire department and in our organizations, it is nice to know the goals that were set forth some seventy years ago have never been compromised.
The object of the Columbia Association still is to promote and provide opportunities for the social and fraternal betterment amongst the members thereof in an atmosphere of good fellowship and spirit of brotherhood.
To encourage and promote a high level of competence and skill in the performance of their professional duties: to foster, amongst the members, a keen awareness of their responsibilities as citizens and as members of the New York City Fire Department.
To make every endeavor to secure uniformity and certainly of privileges and rights for the members, in order that there dignity and repute may not suffer.
Today, we promote better education for our children by awarding scholarships each year. We are also very active in promoting our Italian heritage and culture, and to network with our Italian friends & families internationally.