Joe Torrillo recounts his first-hand experience as a firefighter on September 11, 2001. Joe was directly below the North Tower looking up as the second commercial airliner slammed into it. What transpired in the next few seconds, minutes, hours, and days are nothing shy of unbelievable.

Buried alive twice on September 11, 2001, this smart, funny, and now retired FDNY lieutenant shares his amazing stories and strong messages that attendees will never forget. The lessons Joe learned on and after September 11, 2001, inspire attendees to thrive through change under any circumstance, and to accept and handle unexpected stress and adversities – redirecting them with positive empowerment and reaching their goals and dreams. Attitude and perseverance are everything.


  • Buried Alive With the Will to Survive – From Devastation to Inspiration
  • (Your company) – Teamwork Now More Than Ever
  • Putting the Spark in (your company’s) Fire
  • Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination
  • The Price Tag of Greed, An Overview of a Chutes and Ladders Life
  • Buried Alive With the Will to Survive – From Devastation to Inspiration

Sept 11th, 2001, is the day where the world stood still.

Buried, crushed and bleeding beneath the tons of rubble of the South Tower, Joe wondered what life could be if given just one more day. He was miraculously found alive by rescue workers with multiple fractures, a massive brain injury and barely breathing. The light of day was something he always took for granted. Within ten minutes of being rescued, Joe was buried again under the debris of the second collapse …the North Tower. Joe now travels the world sharing his amazing and inspirational story of survival. A real and regular person, he shares his lessons of managing fear under the most horrible situations.

The lessons Joe learned on and after September 11, 2001 inspire attendees to thrive through change under any circumstance, and to accept and handle unexpected stress and adversities – redirecting them with positive empowerment toward reaching their goals and dreams. Attitude and perseverance are everything. **This program will be customized by Joe to meet your goals for the session.

  • “You’ll never know your true strength until your weakest moment.”
  • “Success is not luck – it is the intersection where preparation meets opportunity.”
  • “Happiness is the paying the price of building character and a good reputation.”
  • “Bravery is the coward that escapes from inside of you.”
  • “The first step of getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
  • “The best lessons in life often come from the bad and the wrong, for they are the ones from which you learn the most.”
  • “Self doubt is our worst enemy, for it seeks to compromise our ability to succeed.”

Topics Menu 

“From Devastation to Inspiration” Buried alive twice on the day that everyone remembers where  they were when America was attacked 4 times in 3 different locations; Joe survived with major life threatening injuries.  Listen to Joe how he recounts every second of being buried twice, and his road to recovery and inspiring audiences around the world.

“Embrace the team concept” When given a huge responsibility to co-create the first state-of-the-art   fire safety learning center, Joe was thrown in to an arena of people with differing experiences and  disciplines. Joe collated everyone’s talents and had it culminate in to an Emmy award winning venue.

“Together we open new doors of opportunityIn a working environment, coworkers have areas of expertise that could and should be shared by all. Just like Firefighters in a firehouse, we constantly learn from each  other. All of this translates in to better policies and procedures.

 “Putting the spark in your company’s fire” Often times companies and corporations suffer the  doldrums of unmotivated employees and complacent management. Unfortunately, in a competitive economy, this scenario is a huge detriment, to say the least.  As the senior Firefighter in his firehouse, Joe’s responsibility was to not only motivate new Firefighters, but to re-motivate those old grumpy “salts” as well.

“Puzzle Progress” When faced with a new project that has no definitive boundaries, moving forward in a logical fashion can seem overly complicated.  By starting with an agreed “mission statement”, piece by piece Joe will reveal how he took a design challenge from concept to completion that won the very prestigious “TEA” award at the Emmy’s in 2002 for a new “edu-tainment” center, “The Fire Zone”

“Facing challenges… and your challengers” In Joe’s viewpoint, life is like a pinball machine.You get swatted time and time again, bounce off walls, ring some bells, and fall in to holes.  Any successful person can relate to that. It’s all about strength, resiliency and determination withoutthe fear of a calendar or a ticking clock.

Reach new heights…build on each other’s experience” Besides being a career Firefighter in New York City, Joe is also an accomplished Carpenter. Joe learned very quickly in the home renovation business how important it is to become privy of other trades and craftsmen.  Joe now lectures at construction trade shows teaching attendees the coordination of the various trades andhow they interact in the building process.

“Joining hands to brighten your company”  Way too often workers never give themselves the opportunity to befriend each other outside of the office. Forming friendships and relations are always a bonus in promoting company spirit and morale. Firefighters consider all other Firefighters from around the world a “Brother”. There’s almost nothing they wouldn’t do for each other, especially in dire times of need.  Joe feels that there is no reason for everyone to not share in this camaraderie.

“ Bringing labor and management together”  Typically, workers and supervisors can have unreasonable expectations of each other, and never get to appreciate the contribution that each other make in keeping a company profitable. Joe has been on both sides of the fence as a Union delegate defending workers rights, and as a first line supervising Lieutenant. Let him explain very simply the misconception  that cause issues with both groups.

“Jump the hurdles and overcome the obstacles”  On the road through life, all humans are going to face pitfalls, adversity and disappointments. What knocks us down, eventually makes us stronger.  In Joe’s own words, “you’ll never know your strength until your weakest moment”. In this presentation  listen as Joe reveals the challenges he faced and over came.

“ Turn on the spirit in your coworkers”  In a weak economy when managements are foregoing salary raises, employee enthusiasm suffers tremendously. Joe recalls those days himself, when Firefighters went almost 8 years with no raises. He remembers the disappointment well, and inspired his fellow  Firefighters to never forget their “call of duty” to protect life and property at any cost.

 “ Lead the charge in your company”   Lots of times the best lessons learned are from those who don’t realize they are teaching, which makes for a great mentor. Many companies pride themselves on the fact that they “stand behind their employees”.  Joe feels differently. If you’re that noble, then lead from the front like Firefighters. That’s why the New York City Fire Dept. lost its top echelon on the horrific day of Sept. 11th, 2001

“ Sometimes success is just an inch away”   Many have often thought, how many other Frank Sinatras, “Little Anthonys”, Babe Ruths, Michael Jordans or Humphrey Bogarts would there have been had they persevered just a little longer?  Joe remembers well when he competed in the most difficult physical exam ever given by the NYC Fire Dept. Hear him tell his story of endurance, a story that brings him to your stage with anecdotes tales and bits of advice for “staying the course” that audience members will remember forever.

“ Gearing together for success”  No company, corporation, association or other group can afford to have their employees or members operating without input from each other. No sports figure on any team has ever won the game alone. Listen to Joe as he reveals the inner workings and operating procedures of Firefighters and how every rescue is the effort of every member working together.

“ Unleashing your inner powers and talents”   After a serious injury incurred during a rescue of an elderly woman trapped in a raging inferno, Joe was forced to take a “ desk job” in the office of fire safety  education at the headquarters of the New York City Fire Dept. Having absolutely no knowledge of this part of the fire service, ironically Joe would eventually be named the Director of the entire program, which was an amazing life changing event. Joe can attest to the fact that we all have abilities that lie dormant in all of us that are waiting to be discovered. Listen to his amazing journey of new found success and let him inspire you to never underestimate your own capabilities as well.

“ The road back”  All of us at times, and for some people, for way too long, we lose “our way “In this modern world that is ever changing, we have all gotten wrapped up in situations we often regret. Unfortunately for so many people, we harbor the guilt and regrets of our errant ways and misbehaviors to a point where our lives become unproductive and severely compromised. When all else fails us, humans will usually consider religion and spirituality to” find their way back”.  Regardless of a person’s religious persuasion, most people lead themselves to believe that they are no  longer worthy of a religious and spiritual re-connection. That is mistake number one .  The thought of going back to a religious life has frightening connotations until you hear the speaker deliver  his own revelations that he delivers directly to the hearts minds and souls of his mesmerized audience.  Unlike “Million Dollar Evangelists”, this presenter is a “real” person who lived a very “real “life that was filled with many challenges, hurdles and navigated all of life’s mazes.  Joe promises to inspire everyone to self-motivation and truly positive change.

“ That EAR-ie feeling”-  managing prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping.   Stereotyping is a generalized conviction about people, places and things.  Stereotyping is a mental vision that transforms a person’s views based on prior experiences and  perceptions. It all happens almost instantly to all of us on first encounters, and can be the impetus to not only alienation and disharmony, but multi-million dollar law suit litigation and settlements. The Speaker opens the event wearing a huge pair of rubber ears that invokes the audience in to  laughter and perplexing stares, which is exactly what the Presenter is wanting and expecting.  From that moment on, the attendees are reminded that stereotyping is a “normal” human process, but learn that they must be managed and controlled with newly acquired skills and insights.  Listen intently how Joe reveals his own encounters towards others, and others towards him.

 “The cost of greed”    In a world where all too often the ownership of materialistic things becomes a  person’s priority, people in general have an insatiable desire to satisfy every want and desire. Unfortunately, greed often leads to a life of crime and other despicable actions. Most of us often forget, or even worse, never learned or understood the difference between “wants” and “needs“, which are two drastically different  human emotions.

Throughout the presentation, the speaker will expose many notable, famous, popular and accomplished  People who made the grave mistakes of stealing, absconding and manipulating funds, goods and  services in which they had no ownership or entitlement. The audience will be amazed when they see  how much can be lost or “thrown away “ as compared to what stood to be gained in malicious  behavior. The moral to the story is simple, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but it can be  lost in one day through immoral actions.

“ Plug in to the global economy”  With the advent of the personal “desk top” computer, companies around the globe are instantly connected in both the social and business world. Long gone are the days of carrier pigeons, tin cups connected with a string, teletypes, Morse code, smoke signals and long distance party-line phone calls. Now, more than ever, everyone needs to become more aware of other countries cultures and foreign business practices. With today’s common practice of “outsourcing”, office workers are dealing with their counterparts in nations all around the globe.

Joe believes that we can all learn from each other.  

Peace and Tolerance ( overview of violence and school shootings )  This is an expose’of school shootings over the past 90 years around the world. This presentation is a  “must“ for all schools, faculty and administrators who take this potential seriously. The audience is reminded that most of these incidents could not have necessarily been prevented. However, by acknowledging and addressing this issue, similar tragedies could be minimized along with  The loss of life and other casualties. View the “characters” in this presentation, and identify how  students often “group” themselves and make their own “silent statements“ that teachers and school  administrators should “zero in“ on.

The presenter was not only a career NYC Firefighter, but a former New York State Correction Officer  in a maximum security prison. Joe has often presented this topic with surviving students of the  Columbine High School shooting incident.

Your Company or Organization is the one  In a weak economy with constant threats of downsizing and layoffs, human behavior will fester in many different ways.  Competition has always been the “name of the game “and will always be what most employees consider their path to security. Unfortunately at the “end of the day “, a company or organization suffers form “cut-throat” competition. All Firefighters consider every rescue a “team effort“, which is why it is the strongest international Brotherhood on earth. So why not carry this attitude and concept in to your workplace and see the difference in employee attitudes. This presentation is a combination of snippets of a myriad of the  other presentations.

 Labor Unions, tools and a weapons  This presentation focuses on bringing labor and management  together to that “fine line “ where they belong, and re-identifying the “labor movement” with the concept of  people being dedicated to their work or job.  The end result has the “workers“ and the “boss”, recognizing and appreciating each other’s contribution  to the company or organization making for a peaceful, happy and successful coexistence.   The attitude of making the most money and doing the least amount of work is talked about in detail.  On the other side of the coin, Joe makes it clear that any and every company or organization is only  as good as  those that work there.

The day a children’s recue hero came to life   In Jan. of 2001, Lt. Joe Torrillo of the N.Y.C. Fire Dept.  was asked to assist the Fisher Price Corporation in their desire to create a new children’s action figure  named “Billy Blazes”, a likeness of a New York City Firefighter, who would be an addition to their line  of other “Rescue Heroes” , namely;

 Jake Justice (a Police Officer)

 Wendy Waters (a Lifeguard)

 Perry-Medic  (an Ambulance Attendant)

 Jack Hammer  (a Construction worker)

 Cliff Hanger (a Mountain Climber)

One dollar of the its sales would be donated to Joe’s fire safety education program. Six months later, in July of 2001, the first mold and prototype was completed. This new “Rescue Hero”, Billy Blazes was sure to be a big hit with the approaching Christmas holiday. Fisher-Price Executives were anxious to start the “buzz” about this new action figure, and wanted to host a press conference in New York City.

Joe thought the month of October would be apropos, because it is “Fire Prevention Month” in the USA, and incidentally the longest running health initiative in the world. The Fisher-Price Execs. thought it would be a “natural tie” to this project, but, too close to the upcoming holiday season. Not knowing what other date before October would be fitting, Joe chose the day of Sept. 11th, 2001, because 9-11 is the emergency phone number in New York City.  Everyone at the meeting thought that was a brilliant and novel choice. !!   At 9 a.m. on that morning, every T.V. station in New York City was waiting for Joe to talk about this  joint venture and introduce the new “Rescue Hero” to the world. En route to that press conference,  the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am.  Joe made a decision to ditch the press conference and then diverted to the scene of the attack. At the end of the day, included with all of the innocent lives that were lost, were 344 Firefighters.  One of them eventually was found alive in another state confined to a hospital with a fractured skull, broken ribs, broken arm crushed spine and internal bleeding. It was Joe Torrillo.

Sadly that evening, Billy Blazes would symbolize for the first time ever, how a real children’s  “Rescue Hero”came to life. Joe survived the collapse of not one, but BOTH Twin Towers. Hear the most ironic and interesting story of the most horrible day in memory and relive the day through the words of a real survivor.

Teachers, creators of all success   In interviews with people of success, they will often allude to their  primary years of education, and to all of those they are deeply indebted , especially their Teachers.  There is not a single person is this world who wouldn’t agree that their lives were enriched, strengthened,  fostered and guided by the faculty of their schools.  Everyone associated with institutions of learning, from Teachers, Instructors, Professors, Principals, Coaches, Advisors and Tutors, all provide the greatest gift of all. That is, the gift of knowledge, encouragement and wisdom, which are the basic ingredients in the recipe of character and a life of fulfillment.

During recuperation from a serious injury incurred while trying to rescue a woman trapped in a raging fire,  Joe was placed in an ad hoc position teaching the public how to both prevent and survive a fire.  Not being a teacher “by trade”, nor having any formal training or degrees in education, Joe found  a new passion with his hidden talent of conveying information that was embraced by his audiences.  One of his former students at NYC Technical College where Joe was an adjunct Lecturer told him, “if I would have had Teachers like you when I was in High School, I would have been a somebody  today”Joe has developed a great theory on education that could revolutionize the learning process.

Listen to his ideas, and learn from Joe the technique of the “sandwich approach” to student evaluation, And watch the amazing impact it has on both yourself, the students and the parents. Joe guarantees, you will be changed forever.

The roads we choose and the paths that we carve    All too often, as professionals in every “walk of life “, we often wonder whether we chose the right career path, or we may think and feel that perhaps we were meant to do something else with our lives.  Joe talks about his own struggles with his desire and determination to stay in his position as a NYC Firefighter, or resign and go back to his former job in construction. 

It was a difficult and confusing decision. Joe stayed, and from that day forward, he never looked back  again.  It was the best choice he had ever made and one that would eventually change his life forever.

 There is an old saying that has a lot of validity, that goes as such, “ a rolling stone gathers no moss”

Joe recommends expanding your expertise within your current career, especially if you are employed  in a rock solid company that offers great benefits.        

Aptitude and Attitude – A Combination for Success  As young boys and girls enter their adolescents, along with the physical growth comes a lot of mental, emotional and psychological changes as well. Teen years are typically the most difficult, as the stress of entering adult life has a new set of expectations and responsibilities. Unfortunately, the fear and anxiety  that is associated with that can have a detrimental effect on students.

Joe Torrillo travels the country speaking for student assemblies – inspiring students and speaking directly to their minds and souls. He reveals the struggles of his own formative years and shares his trials and tribulations  in a very candid and honest presentation.  Students are drawn to his magnetic messages and begin to face their future with renewed vigor and confidence.

Joe has an uncanny ability to inspire kids and move them to self motivation like no other.  His overall messages are extremely inspiring, yet simple in nature:

  • There’s a big price tag on $tupidity.
  • Life is all about having fun, but know the lines you shouldn’t cross.
  • Winners never quit, and quitters never win.
  • Your attitude in life is equally important to your aptitude.
  • Every successful person starts with two things: Desire and Commitment


The Hero Beside You School administrators and faculty are always looking for effective ways to promote positive thinking that affect  all aspects of a student’s life.

Joe Torrillo shares his story of survival on September 11th, 2001, with the hopes of inspiring students to be all they can be , as often as they can.  Assembled students are asked to look at those next to, behind and in front of them.  Students become aware of other’s height, weight, hair color and skin tone, along with gender differences. The object is for them to realize we are all different in many ways, and that the difference is okay because the world they live in and the world that they will navigate is what makes all of us who we are. Joe reminds the students that no single ethnic or racial group of people can claim ownership of every bit of success. Famous, popular, and accomplished people can trace their roots to every Country on earth.

Everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to the good of others.  The unforgettable message that Joe provides is that those who end up doing the most for us in life are usually those we least expected. The moral is simple, don’t alienate anyone because of their differences, but endeavor to engage everyone equally – for you never know who will “be there” for you when you need them the most! The person beside you could become your (BFF) best  friend and biggest hero.

Understanding and Assessing Life Safety in Buildings   This presentation is a must for all of those in the fire service that hold the responsibility for building inspection and life safety in their community, especially those that hold the title of “AHJ “  (the Authority that holds jurisdiction). The first step in the process is becoming more familiar with different types of building construction, the laws and codes that govern them, and the way in which they are occupied.   In New York City, there are 19 different occupancy groups, not much different than the  rest of the  country,   that have a propensity for large loss of life due to fire. The first thing that fire officials must come to believe and accept is that fire prevention is a partnership between the local firefighting companies  and the owner of buildings. It is the building owners who are the most important partner in the partnership.

They are the ones who know their buildings much better than anyone else. The building owners or their managing agents are present before the fire starts and they should  have the  dominant interest in their own investment.     It’s a fact, Firefighters ALWAYS arrive after the fire has started, and unfortunately sometimes at a point where all efforts are futile.

This presentation clearly defines the importance of categorizing “occupancy groups”, how we     derive at the differences, and how we allow people to occupy buildings and other structures.      (note: structures are not necessarily buildings).  For those who assumed they knew it all, it would behoove them to attend this presentation where “construction classification” and life safety systems are described and identified. There will be an opportunity  to form individual groups, for the purpose of brainstorming their ideas and knowledge in regards to important factors that guide legitimate and effective life safety planning.

The Most Infamous Fires in the world , and what we should have learned    Joe will take his audience thru an interesting and riveted showcase of fires around the world where large loss of life occurred. After all of these fires, there were many lessons learned. How well do we remember those lessons now and how well do we heed them are the big questions  proposed to the audience in this session.

Overview of “ The Design and Collapse of the Twin Towers “   Beginning with the initial conceptualization of the World Trade Center, the presentation goes back to the 1950’s and the “brainchild “of the Rockefeller brothers whose vision was to start a global economy. A brief explanation of how the site was chosen for the World Trade Center and the challenges faced by the architectural and engineering teams. From there, a chronological timeline of the incident of Sept.11th, 2001 is detailed from the initial attack  to the collapse of both Twin Towers.

Note: The Presenter was one of the few survivors and the only one to have survived the collapse of both Towers.

Besides being a 25 year veteran Lieutenant with the New York City Fire Dept, Joe studied building construction and engineering design in College. After the presentation, Joe will open the floor to a “question and answer “period for the curious  attendees.

This is a one of a kind presentation that is being considered for next year’s “History Channel” special.

Master the Disaster   All across America in every little Town and in every big City, the potential for disasters of epic proportions are not only possible, but are forever looming. The “big question” in everyone’s minds are “what would we do, or what can we do ? Obviously the average area resident would spontaneously reply, “call 911”, which is exactly what they should do. Immediately thereafter, an orchestra of sirens of responding emergency vehicles will be heard in the distance. Unfortunately, the resources of the responding Police Dept, Fire Dept. and Ambulance Service may soon be taxed beyond their capabilities. For many years, the State of California has suffered thunderous earthquakes and will continue to do so, typically without a moment’s notice. These huge scaled incidents are living proof that their trained first responders just aren’t enough, and for many legitimate reasons.  Henceforth, the Governor of California realizing that the threat of all disasters in his State were never ending, and the potential for overtaxing the present available rescue personnel was an obvious and guaranteed casualty, he helped form the first ever “ C.E.R.T “.  The C.E.R.T ( Community Emergency Response Team ) is made up of willing and able residents of their areas who are trained and volunteer to provide emergency assistance to members of their community when the services of their local first responders are severely overwhelmed.

As the need for C.E.R.Ts became evident to officials in other States, Joe Torrillo was chosen to be one of the founding members of a group of skilled, knowledgeable and accomplished professionals to create and implement a C.E.R.T for the City of New York.  After attending numerous C.E.R.T conferences around the U.S.A and experiencing the devastating tragedy of Sept. 11th, 2001, Joe soon realized the “short comings” of many of these C.E.R.T s .  A notoriously talented visionary and creator of success, let Joe form “breakout” groups amongst your attendees, and together you will see a truly effective and realistic approach to forming a C.E.R.T in your Community.

 “ Saving lives thru public education”    The common denominator in all fire departments mission statements around the world is to protect life and property in a variety of ways. One of the most important and effective ways that they can accomplish their goals is to have a sound fire prevention program.

While the subject of fire prevention is broad and voluminous, it could be narrowed to a more defined  approach with the three E’s of fire prevention, namely; Engineering, Enforcement and Education.  Unfortunately the last “ E “ of fire prevention ( Education ) has always been under     estimated or at times totally ignored.  When NYC was typically experiencing between 300 and 400 fire related deaths every year for the past century, it seemed normal or inevitable that this would continue to occur.

 Recuperating from a near career ending injury, the presenter was required to assist with the NYC”s Fire Dept’s  fire safety education program.  Having very limited knowledge of this part of the fire service, the presenter saw an opportunity to use his creativity, skills and knowledge of building construction. and redefine the messages and the modes of delivery of life safety instruction.  This passionate quest would propel him to be named the “Director of Fire Safety Education “ and lead to the design of thee first state-of-the-art fire safety learning center in the heart of Manhattan at Rockefeller Center.      

This new interactive, “ Disney “  quality venue would go on to win the prestigious “ THEA “ award given out at the Emmy’s in 2002.   Because of aggressive fire safety initiatives, fire fatalities in NYC have dropped to levels that no one ever thought attainable.

Come hear all of the methods employed by the presenter that has made New York the model City across the world in regards to a public fire safety education program.  As one of the few survivors, and the only one to survive the collapse of both Twin Towers on  Sept. 11th, 2001, there are very few people who take life safety as important as this Presenter.

“ The making of the Fire Zone learning center “    Knowing that the issue of fire prevention and survival may not be first and foremost in most peoples minds, it is important for fire departments to make it known that fire, is, and will always be the biggest threat to human life ever since the first man crawled out of a cave millions of years ago.  Unfortunately most fire safety education is pamphlet driven with basic “pointers” that go unheeded or even worse; totally disregarded.  If every fire department administers some kind of fire safety education program, then why are people not getting message“ ?

The answer is simple. The lessons of fire safety are often delivered in written form that is for the most part, mundane and boring.  When you acknowledge that “seeing is believing”, you will quickly realize that the effectiveness of your community’s efforts in preventing fires would be most impacting with a dedicated learning center, such as the “ Fire Zone “ in New York City.         

The Presenter was the co-creator of thee first state-of-the-art fire safety learning center in the      world. This New York City venue that won the coveted “TEA” award (venues of “themed          entertainment and education” ) at the Emmy’s in 2002.  Disney who was the 2nd runner up for that award, was so impressed with NYC’s  “Fire Zone”,   they then decided to incorporate their own fire safety learning center in Epcot Center.  Learn how you could begin to design your own learning center in your community.

 Planning for high-rise fires   On August 5th, 1970, a fire broke out in a new 50 story high-rise office building at the tip of Manhattan in 1 New York Plaza.. It took 6 hours to bring the fire under control, but unfortunately not before 2 people lost their lives.  This building was typical of a new and innovative design of steel framed construction, with an aluminum and glass “ curtain wall “ exterior , that had a light-weight sprayed on  fireproofing on its steel structural supports. Before this fire, fire safety in high-rise building was almost non-existent., which would become the impetus for a new law passed by the City Council ( Local law # 5 of 1973 ).  Since then, a multitude of changes were brought about by the requirements of this new and effective law, that other cities of the United States should endeavor to follow.  Listen to the presenter explain in great detail the intent and the content of this new law,   and how it applies and improves life safety in high rise office buildings.   During this presentation, effective and innovative procedures to be followed at an actual incident  will be revealed that attendees will find not only amazing, but very realistic.  Your audience will agree that this is probably one of the most “ straight forward” and informative presentations that they have ever heard.  As an addendum to this presentation, the incident at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th, 2001 will be discussed . The presenter is a retired Lieutenant of the New York City Fire department who spent the first 15 years of his career fighting fires in the hi-rise financial district of Manhattan.   In addition, he taught the high-rise fire safety director’s course at NYC Technical College, and  is the only person to have survived the collapse of both Twin Towers.

 The Basics of a Leadership – Be firm, fair and consistent  All across the world, humans act in the role of a Leader in so many ways and forms.  So what makes a person a good and effective leader ? The answer lies in a myriad of text books and never ending Zig Zilar “rah-rah” seminars. Truth be told, everyone that has ever led, has their own unique experience, ideology and postulate about effective leadership qualities and mantras.  Suffice to say, it is easy to get caught up in an inordinate amount of information for consumption.  As humans, we all have a frame of reference that influences our theories on this important subject.  It’s not a matter of what’s right or wrong, nor what’s good and bad. It’s a matter of what resonates in  the hearts and minds of those to whom we endeavor to inspire. The Presenter tells about the lessons he learned as a  N.Y.S. Correction officer navigating the “tough halls” of maximum security jails. It was  during this experience that he would never forget the simple adages of his training; be firm, fair and consistent.   The presenter resigned to accept a career as a Firefighter in New York City, eventually becoming a  front line supervising Lieutenant. In this new position, the presenter was required to lead other Firefighters under thee most stressful and dangerous life threatening conditions. Listen to how he rose to that challenge


Joe Torrillo was a 25 year Lieutenant with the NYC Fire Dept. who is now retired on disability. He spent the first 15 years of his career in Engine Company # 10, across the street from the South Tower of the World Trade Center. While recuperating from a severe injury on New Years Eve of 1996 going in to 1997, Joe was assigned to convalesce in the office of fire safety education.

Eight months into this “light-duty” position, Joe was ultimately named the Director of this public-based program. In his new position, Joe would co-design a children’s state-of-the-art fire safety learning center, which opened in October, 2000.

This new venue, “The Fire Zone “, in the heart of Manhattan, was nominated and won the coveted “THEA” award at the Emmy’s in 2002. Shortly thereafter, in January of 2001, Joe worked on a project with Fisher-Price Toys to help design a new children’s “action figure”, which was part of their line of “Rescue Heroes”. This new action figure was named “Billy Blazes” and was a likeness of a NYC Firefighter, who was an addition to their other “Rescue Heroes “.

In conjunction with the Executives of the Fisher-Price Corp., Joe chose the “Fire Zone” as the location for the press conference to introduce “Billy Blazes”, and then keeping with a safety theme, ironically chose the date of September 11, 2001, because 9/11 is the Emergency phone number in New York City.

On the way to the press conference, that was set for 9 a. m., Joe was about an eighth of a mile away from the World Trade Center, when American Airlines Flight #11 struck the South Tower at 8:46 a.m. Fearing for his Firefighter brothers in Engine Co. 10 and Ladder Co. 10 across the street from the Towers, Joe diverted to the scene to render assistance.

Three minutes after donning borrowed bunker gear, at 9:03 a.m., the second jet, flew over Joe’s head and slammed in to the South Tower. With a background in Structural Engineering, Joe made an immediate assessment that everyone above the fire was doomed to death, and the buildings would collapse.

While Joe was involved in the rescue operation, the South tower fell at 9:59 a.m. Joe was buried alive with a fractured skull, broken ribs, broken arm, crushed spine and heavy internal bleeding. Shortly after being found alive in the rubble, they removed Joe on a long spine board and placed him on the deck of a boat on the Hudson River, with the expectation of getting him to a hospital.

As emergency personnel were holding his split scalp together, the North Tower fell and buried Joe alive again. He was alone in the engine room.

About 45 minutes later, Joe was once again rescued from the debris, and taken across the Hudson River, where he awoke in a hospital room at the Jersey City Trauma Center in New Jersey. Because he was wearing a borrowed set of firefighting clothing with the name Thomas McNamara, Joe was misidentified by that name, and Joe was declared missing for 3 days.

By the time the sun set on the evening of September11, 2001, Joe had miraculously survived the collapse of both Towers, but with life-long injuries.

Sadly, “Billy Blazes” would come to represent the 343 New York City Firefighters who had made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in the rescue effort.

Today Joe Torrillo travels the world as a professional speaker with a quest to make our country the “Re-United States of America”, resurrecting patriotism, trumpeting the men and women of the Armed Services, mentoring adolescents, and inspiring audiences of all sizes to embrace change and never give up on their dreams.

Joe has a wide variety of topics to choose from which are all both inspiring and high in content. His memorable programs are an excellent fit for ANY type of organization. Joe’s speaking engagements very often end with a standing ovation, followed by a long line of attendees excited to meet him and shake his hand.