Joe Torrillo presents programs across America to Fire Departments, Fire Associations, Government Agencies, and other groups associated with fire and fire safety. Below are just a few of his programs.

After you book Joe Torrillo as your speaker, he will spend time with you by phone, making sure he has a clear understanding of your topic and messaging goals. Joe will create a customized program that is right on target for your attendees.


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 hold 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 a vested interest in their own investment. Firefighters ALWAYS arrive after the fact.

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 USA , and What We Should Have Learned

Joe will take his audience thru an interesting and riveted showcase of fires in our Country 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.

The following fires will be presented to the attendees for their perusal and critique.

  • The Triangle shirt waist fire on March 25th, 1911
  • The General Slocum boat fire on June 15th, 1904
  • The Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire
  • The Station discotheque fire
  • The “Iroquois theater” fire
  • The Lakeview School fire in Ohio
  • The Happylands social club fire
  • The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center

After a brief overview of each of these fires, attendees will be asked to break up into groups and give their theories and opinions in regards to “what went wrong”. Then there will be a discussion of the lessons learned, which should be used in assessing life safety hazard within the confines of buildings and structures.

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 buildings were almost non-existent, which would become the impetus to a new law passed by the NYC 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 strive to follow. Joe will 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.

As an addendum to this presentation, the incident at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th, 2001 will be discussed.

Joe 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.

Saving Lives thru Public Education

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, Joe was assigned to assist with the New York City’s Fire Department’s fire safety education program.

Having very limited knowledge of this part of the fire service, Joe saw an opportunity to use his creativity, passion and knowledge of building construction and redefine the messages and the modes of delivery for life safety instruction. This quest would propel him to be named the Director of Fire Safety Education and lead to the design of the 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 New York City have dropped to levels that no one ever thought attainable.

In this session, Joe explains all of the methods that have made New York City the model city across the world in regards to a public fire safety program. As one of the few survivors, and the only one to survive the collapse of both Twin Towers, there are very few people who take fire safety as seriously as this Joe.

The Making of the Fire Zone Learning Center

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.

Knowing that the issue of fire prevention and survival may not be first and foremost in most people’s minds, it is important for fire departments to make it known that fire, is, and will always be, the biggest threat to human life.

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 the 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 effective with a dedicated learning center, such as the “Fire Zone” in New York City.

Joe was the co-creator of the first state-of-the-art learning in New York City long before Disney had an idea to incorporate their own in Epcot Center. Learn how you could begin to design your own learning center in your community.