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This profile was last updated on 9/8/11  and contains information from public web pages.

Employment History

  • Director of Fire Safety Education
    FDNY Foundation
  • Fire Fighter
    New York City
  • Firefighter
    New York City
  • Lieutenant and Director of Fire Safety Education
  • Lieutenant
    New York City Fire Department
  • Director of Fire Safety Education
    New York City Fire Department
  • Spokesperson for the Fire Safety Education Fund
  • Lieutenant
  • Lieutenant
    NYC Fire Dept Lieutenant

Board Memberships and Affiliations

65 Total References
Web References
ONTARIO - Joe Torrillo, a ..., 8 Sept 2011 [cached]
ONTARIO - Joe Torrillo, a retired lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, is never in New York City on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorists attacks.
Instead, for nearly a decade since that September morning, Torrillo has chosen to speak around the world about his experience being trapped underneath the World Trade Center.
On Thursday afternoon he recounted to a small group of Ontario Rotary Club members, the minutes leading up to the towers collapsing tower while he was directing rescue operations and his journey to recovery.
Joe Torrillo. Retired Lieutenant, New York City Fire Department, Twin Towers Survivor, chats with members of the Ontario Rotary Club at a weekly lunch meeting in Ontario September 8, 2011. Torrillo joined the Fire Department of New York in 1981, five years after graduating from New York City Technical College. His first firehouse, and his second home for 15 years, was Ten House, across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center. Lt. Torrillo survived being crushed by the collapsing tower while he was directing rescue operations. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer) memories of Sept. 11 attacks for the rest of my life," said Torrillo, who retired three years after the attacks.
Torrillo joined the NYFD in 1981, five years after graduating from New York City Technical College.
His first firehouse was across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center.
With a structural engineer background, Torrillo said he was one of the first responders to predict the collapse of the towers.
Torrillo said he raced for protection but the air pressure from the collapsing building thrust him into the air.
Rescue crews were able to dig him out of the rubble before the second tower collapsed. Just as responders were taking him away on a boat, headed to a hospital in New Jersey, the second tower collapsed and Torrillo was struck by more debris.
Once that debris had settled, he was taken to the hospital.
With the extent of injuries Torrillo was hospitalized and had to go through rehabilitation.
Surviving the experience made Torrillo realize the opportunity he had to give back to the community, he told those in attendance.
"It's more about sharing the story of the real heroes, the ones who didn't come home that day," he said.
But for years, Torrillo admits he had survivor's guilt. He said he didn't realize it until he sought some medical attention.
"I was angry that I survived," he explained, "like God had cheated me of the glory of marching home with all the other heroes."
The healing process, Torrillo says, has begun and will mostly likely continue the rest of his life.
Listening to Torrillo share his story was retired Ontario police officer Katie Roberts, who visited New York City three days after the attacks.
Torrillo will participate in a memorial event at the Nixon Library Sunday morning and also taking part in the Angels/Yankee baseball game pregame ceremonies that afternoon.
He was invited to speak at the Sunday morning memorial service by members of the Freedom's Flame organization.
The foundation, a Rancho Cucamonga nonprofit formed in 2002, designed bicoastal sculptures depicting the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
The sculptures, which will include figures of more than 30 civilians and rescue workers, Sam Spagnolo, Rancho Cucamonga councilman and a member of the organization's board of directors, first met Torrillo five years ago.
"Joe is a very modest person," he said. "He saved a lot of people that day. I am fortunate and honored to know Joe Torrillo."
The Index Journal -- News Story, 6 Sept 2002 [cached]
Torrillo talked about his experience and let students ask him questions, such as Taylor Roessler at Pinecrest Elementary.
Joseph Torrillo was running late on his way to Manhattan to help announce the marketing of a new toy for children, "Billy Blazes," when the unthinkable happened."As I was leaving to head to Manhattan, someone told me a plane had hit the tower," he said.That tower turned out to be the south tower of the World Trade Center.At that moment, Torrillo, director of fire safety education for the Fire Department of New York, didn't think the situation was serious."I didn't necessarily think it was a jetliner because there are people in small planes that like to fly," he said.Torrillo shared his story Thursday about what he went through that day to a crowd at the Greenwood Chapter of the American Red Cross annual dinner and awards program. The dinner marked 85 years the organization has been in Greenwood County.As he got closer to Manhattan, Torrillo was able to get a first glimpse of what had happened."I saw the towers and I knew it wasn't a small plane," he said."I saw eight floors that were ablaze."Soon, Torrillo said he heard the roar of another jetliner flying low and saw the second plane hit the north tower of the WTC."I knew it was a terrorist attack," he said.Knowing that problems could arise in getting emergency personnel to the area, as was the case in February 1993 when the same structure was bombed, Torrillo worked with others to clear the West Side Highway, a major artery on the west side of Manhattan.However, he warned emergency personnel not to get too close to the area because he thought the top of the building was going to fall, possibly damaging much-needed equipment. That fear came true as one of the towers collapsed."I didn't think it was going to fall so soon," Torrillo said."I thought it was going to warp and twist and lose its center of gravity at around 3 p.m.Torrillo immediately bolted for the Brooklyn Bridge, but only got a few steps before the impact of the collapse threw him against a building.Injured, Torrillo was helped by fellow firefighters through the dark to a boat on the waterfront.As the second tower fell, the people on the boat jumped in the water. Somehow, Torrillo got himself off the spinal board and went into the engine room seconds before pieces of the tower pounded the boat.Torrillo later was taken to a New Jersey hospital and was eventually reunited with his family.That day taught the lieutenant a strong lesson on patriotism."I realized that freedom is not a birthright," he said."It can be taken away from you at any time."After Torrillo's speech, a number of Red Cross volunteers were honored for their hard work and dedication to the organization. They were:
Living to tell of N.Y. terror, 15 Sept 2003 [cached]
CEDAR HILLS L t. Joe Torrillo, a longtime member of the Fire Department of New York, stood in front of the World Trade Center's south tower when it collapsed Sept. 11, 2001.
Torrillo, father of four, never reached the bridge.Building debris buried the fire department's director of fire safety education, breaking all his ribs and one arm, and fracturing his skull.
"I was trapped, and I started to suffocate," he told students Friday at Cedar Park Middle School.Torrillo, in Portland for a Sept. 11 ceremony, stopped by the school to detail his experience.
"I heard people screaming and crying," he said."It was a miracle they found me."
Taken by boat to a New Jersey hospital, Torrillo ended up on a missing-persons list.
But given the 343 firefighters who died that day, Torrillo feels lucky.
"I was one of the few survivors," he said.
That fascinated students, who had plenty of questions for Torrillo and Michael Hughes, a crime prevention specialist with the Citizens' Police Academy in New York.
"They compromised" Torrillo explained that older skyscrapers, such as the Empire State Building, were built with steel beams encased in concrete, making them strong and fire-resistant.
But the World Trade Center, opened in 1970, was built quicker and cheaper, Torrillo said.
"They compromised and still built a good building," he said.
"At least 2,000 people would be alive today if the staircases didn't go through the center," Torrillo said.
Torrillo and Hughes know it was real.Hughes still has nightmares; Torrillo still has headaches.
"Every one of you has potential," Torrillo told the students, who gave a standing ovation after the 45-minute talk.
Lions Club of Iowa, 17 Mar 2015 [cached]
Joe Torrillo of the NYFD, did an amazing job of inspiring the attendees by telling them about his experiences as a New York Fire Fighter, especially on September 11, 2001 when he was at WTC as the second plane hit. He was buried when the first tower collapsed and after being pulled out while waiting to be taken to the hospital he was buried when the second tower went down. He encouraged everyone to keep helping people and congratulated the Lions of Iowa for everything they do. If you missed this year's Gala you should start planning to attend next year. Lion Phil is currently working on next year's event and he promises it will be amazing! See you there!
New York City ... [cached]
New York City Firefighter Joe Torrillo, who was part of the rescue effort at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, survived after being buried alive twice when the towers collapsed.
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