National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Deputy Chief
Age: 51
Year of Death: 2001

John M. Paolillo

John M. Paolillo‚ 51‚ deputy chief‚ FDNY‚ Special Operations. Two words describe Paolillo’s commitment to saving lives – relentless dedication. Paolillo‚ who joined the FDNY in 1977‚ spent many sleepless nights studying for his lieutenant’s test. A jogger and marathoner‚ Paolillo prided himself on keeping in shape – though helping others sometimes interfered. Once‚ he interrupted a jog to rescue the driver of a crashed car. Paolillo lived in Glen Head‚ Long Island‚ with his family. His dedication to the job was matched only by his commitment to his wife and two children.

Memorial Posts


Memorial Wall

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  1. Today I worked in honor of John. In an effort to help remember those who’s lives were taken by terrorist attacks 15 years ago, my workplace handed out badges and we rang the bell in their honor. It was a pleasure learning about who he was and his dedication to his job, community and family. You are not forgotten, John and neither is your family. Thank you for everything.

    – Liz Paulick
  2. Today I completed the “Step up for Heroes” memorial star climb for the Sioux Falls, SD Firefighters. We rang the bell and climbed 110 flights of stairs to represent the 110 floors of the World Trade Center. I was proud to wear the name of John Paolillo, and even more so when I researched who I was climbing for. We will never forget.

    – Alaina Sibley
  3. Today September 8, 2017 I carried Deputy Chief John Paolillo badge in the CNY Stair Climb in Honor and Remberance of the Fallen Heros of 9/11/01. I felt blessed to have the honor to carry his badge for the 110 flights and ever more so after learning about him. He is never forgotten.

    – Sara Hanrahan
  4. Today I did the new Orleans stair climb for our fallen fire fighters of 9/11! We where all assigned badges to climb for a specific fire fighter I was given john paolillos name picture battalion chief of battalion 11 today I made that 110 story climb for you my brither please know u will never be forgotten and will always have a place in my heart!!! My brother I know ur smiling down from heaven I felt it in my heart that u where there beside me the entire time telling me to keep pushing forward! I will forever rember you thank you for your sacrifice

    – Natalie champagne
  5. RIP

    – Vicente Paolillo Filho
  6. Today I worked in honor of Chief John M. Paolillo at the 2018 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in Tucson, AZ . Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice, John – you will never be forgotten.

    – Christy Miceli
  7. Today I am walking for John M Paolillo in Green Bay Wisconsin.

    – Anna Asti
  8. Green Bay had a 911 stair climb at Lambeau field on Saturday September 22 to honor the fallen firefighters!!!! And I had John M.Pailillo’s name It was an honor to climb for him!!!

    – Becca Wood
  9. I climbed and carried your badge in your honor at Lambeau Field on Saturday, September 22 2018 -110 Flights. May you rest in peace. You will never be forgotten.

    – P/FF Amanda B.
  10. I was honored to wear the badge of John Paolillo at the CASA of Lexington Superhero Run in September 2018 in Lexington, KY.

    – Brian Herald
  11. On September 8, 2019 McAllen, TX had a 9/11 memorial stair climb. I was honored to climbed and carry the badge of Chief John Paolillo. You will never be forgotten for your ultimate sacrifice. Rest In Peace.

    – Sandra Darling
  12. Today I remembered John, devoted family man remembering our last conversation in August of 2001 about his kids and laughing because he said they were taller than him because of hormones that are put in milk and meat. We had a good laugh! RIP

    – Glenn Tarpinian
  13. I climbed for you at the 11th Annual Memorial Red Rocks Stair Climb. Rest In Peace to John and to all who gave of themselves.

    Shelley Doyle

    – Shelley Doyle
  14. Today I had the honor of carrying your name close to my heart as I climbed 110 stories at the air traffic control tower here at Grand Forks Air Force Base North Dakota. I would like to thank you for your sacrifices on that day and also to do continued prayers for your family members and loved ones that were left behind. May we never forget.

    – Bella Ohm
  15. I am from a family of Paolillo’s settled in the Boston area, spelled the same way, so I’m sure there is a connection somewhere on the extended family tree. I did not know John, but through articles and tributes, I have learned much about him and his family over the years. He will always carry a special remembrance for me on this day. God bless him and his family.

    – Kevin Paolillo
  16. 09/14/19-I climbed the ‘Charlotte 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb’ wearing John M. Paolillo’s badge. It was an honor to climb for the Deputy Chief whose life represented strength, courage, and no fear to serve. This day will be recorded as one of the best days of my life to climb in memory of our Hero, John M. Paolillo.

    – Daune Steele
  17. Today I mountain bike 3.43 miles in full gear to remember Cheif Paolillo. Would be climbing stairs but Covid has changed plans. So virtually I’ll be honoring his sacrifice helping other in nature.

    – Jordan Schreppel
  18. Chief Paolillo taught at my Fire Station in the Bay Area in the late 90’s. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him and he really left a deep impact on me. He gave me the term “Same Clowns, Different Circus…” It was a term of endearment. (You may have to be on the job to understand). Today I am working one of the major wildfires in California. I think if John often and especially this day. I am very thankful to be one of those clowns.

    – Jake Pelk
  19. Rest in peace, John, may God bless you and your family members. I am certain that you are with the Lord.

    We miss and mourn your loss as a terrible tragedy.

    You died as you lived, caring for others, a true hero.

    We will never forget you and your great sacrifice. Thank you.

    Charlie Russo
    classmate, St. Stephen’s High School, Brooklyn NY, 1967

    – Charlis Russo
  20. Today, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I ran a 5k carrying John’s photo……I am an Italian American New Yorker also and lost friends that day. I hope his family know what a hero he was.

    – jackie s Reiter Ruth
  21. Two years ago I received a badge with John Paolillo’s name and picture on it to wear while I ran the Tunnels to Towers 5k in Northern Kentucky. Later in the month a group of us who had participated in that event traveled to NYC for the Marathon and we visited the memorial where we sought out “our” for fighters to pay our respect in person. This year, on the 20th anniversary, I again wore John Paolillo’s badge as I ran the T2T 5k and I will wear it again in his honor when I join the T2T in NYC.

    – Michael Fairbairn
  22. Today is the first time we have visited the memorial. We visited your name. 20 years doesn’t erase the memory of our friendship. Our families were friends. Our kids were friends. You were Brandon’s first soccer coach. Now Justin is Sea Cliff firefighter. You have been missed.

    – Holly Robilotti, Justin Robilotti
  23. To the Paolillo Family, on the 21st anniversary of 9/11, John will never be forgotten. He is a true HERO!!!

    – Lisa Hopman