By Alexandria T. Montes | Reporter
From New York City to Clovis, Andy Isolano has touched the lives of many and is recognized as a hero for his accomplishments. Whether it’s aiding those in 9/11, working with the Clovis Police Department, volunteering his time at Hurricane Katrina, owning his own restaurant, coordinating this Clovis Emergency Response Team (CERT) or working as a Fire Prevention Officer for the City of Clovis, Isolano has certainly earned his stripes.
“Andy is a wonderful guy. He’s made an impact in our community,” said David McDonald, former CEO of Pelco. “He’s one of us now and I think we are better off for that. I am thrilled to have Andy as a friend and to have him as part of the Fresno and Clovis Community.”
What many saw as a horrible nightmare on 9/11 was a reality for Isolano, a Long Island native. He had gotten off duty that morning and was on his way home when he was told that something horrible just happened. After the initial attack, Isolano and his team took a spare engine and immediately got back to work where he witnessed the second Twin Tower collapse. Isolano’s way of reacting with everything there was to help rescue and find his “brothers” who were still missing.
For about six weeks non-stop following 9/11, he dedicated most of him time at “the pile” – the remains of the World Trade Center. He worked almost 24 hours a day going through all the debris as a way to give back to all of his friends he lost there. In the process, Andy endured some permanent respiratory problems that ended up considering him disabled by the Fire Department of New York (FDNY).
“Though he wasn’t directly affected that day personally, it affected him in a very large way otherwise and his dedication to his friends by what he did afterwards certainly distinguishes him as a hero,” McDonald said.
Isolano and David became friends as a result of the California Memorial. After reluctantly getting on a plane and going to California, Isolano said it was a trip to Fresno that saved his life. That December, Andy decided to make his big move and relocate from New York City to California.
“My life was turned upside down, I had just got divorced two weeks before 9/11,” Isolano said. Then 9/11 happened and I lost 13 close friends and then on Nov. 12 they told me I would probably never be a firefighter again, so my whole world I loved was gone.”
Isolano and his wife Michelle share his two stepchildren and two boys from his previous marriage. He also got back into doing what he loves as a Fire Prevention Officer for the City of Clovis for seven years now.
“Things are good,” Isolano added.
Isolano continues to give back to the community by volunteering. He currently volunteers at the Burn Camp where he works with younger burned survivors with their ongoing recovery in a camp-type setting. Here, the survivors are given the opportunity to learn life skills such as interview, etiquette, along with an informal talk about the “birds and the bees.”