John Albert Harrington, 73, a retired sergeant on the D.C. Fire Department who was active in civic and senior citizens groups, died of cardiac arrest Dec. 19 at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base.

Mr. Harrington, who was born in Washington, graduated from the old Business High School. As a young man, he played on several championship basketball teams in the city. He joined the fire department in 1931 and retired in 1963. Until the early 1970s, he drove a school bus in Prince George's County.

A resident of Forestville, Mr. Harrington was a founding member of the Berkshire Civic Association there. He was a member of the District Heights Senior Citizens and the Mount Calvary Senior Citizens groups. He took part in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, in which senior citizens conduct recreational activities for children in elementary schools, and was a charter member of the Seasoned Players, an entertainment group for senior citizens.

He also was a member of the parish of Mount Calvary Catholic Church, Local 36 of the Fire Fighters Association of D.C., the Retired Firemen's Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the National Association of Retired Federal Employees.

Survivors include his wife, Leona M. Harrington of Forestville; a daughter, Alta J. Tozzi of Reston, and two sisters, Catherine Meany of Mount Rainier and Emily Genau, of Washington.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Heart Fund of the American Heart Association, or to the Little Sisters of the Poor.