Except for the white helmet on his head and the gold badge he on his shirt, Troy Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Andrew Doyle easily could be mistaken for the man living next door.
He and his wife, Chrissy, have two daughters and live in rural Manhattan. Caitlyn, 17, runs on the track and cross-country teams at Lincoln-Way Central High School. Emma, 10, is a fifth-grader at Anna McDonald Elementary School.
She is also a softball player and musician.
When Doyle and his wife are not running laps to keep pace with their children, he turns to yard work as his escape outlet. He puts on his headphones, revs up his lawn mower and finds a bit of peace and tranquility in the seemingly mundane task of cutting grass.
His day job can be much more stressful.
Doyle has been a member of the firefighting crew at Troy for 24 years. During that time, he has watched the community of Shorewood grow from 4,500 residents to more than 15,000. He also has watched the fire protection district grow from six full-timers to a staff of 33 spread out over two firehouses.
And he has battled a number of blazes with his colleagues and answered a number of emergency calls, some that stick in his mind, some dating to his early days as a firefighter working with the Manhattan fire crew.
“The big fire they had back in Rockdale in the late-80s or early-90s is one that comes to mind,” Doyle said. “Then, I’d have to say actually on my 21st birthday we went down to Bradley. They had a large warehouse on fire. It was about 98 degrees out—a real humid day.
“Trying to deal with the heat from the weather and heat from the fire was really taxing on people. A couple firemen went down because of the heat—but luckily nothing serious.”
And then there was a call to put out a fire in on the west side of Joliet—in the Timberline Subdivision—that ultimately resulted in an investigation into a woman’s death and murder charges.
“That came in as a fire alarm—early in the morning,” Doyle said. “We responded. Nothing was showing when we pulled up. One of the firefighters walked around back and they had smoke coming out the back door. That’s when the crews went in and found the victim.
“At first, we thought it was from the fire. But it wound up being that she was actually murdered. It sticks in your mind. It’s something we don’t see every day. It’s such a small community, a small area here—it’s not like the City of Chicago where you have stuff like that going on all the time.”
The people who know Doyle best say it’s his ability to think on his feet and keep his cool in even the most heated of situations that set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He has built his reputation over the course of the last two decades.
“Deputy chief Doyle has a varied background, knows a lot of detail about a lot of areas of the fire service,” Troy fire chief Steve Engledow said. “He’s been around the fire service for many years—has high morals.
“He’s a very ethic-based person, and that’s what fire service is all about, having very honest people doing hard work and knowing a lot about everything.”
Engledow has come to admire the way Doyle interacts with the team of men and women he works with at Troy.
“There are two forms of leadership, so to speak, in the fire service,” Engledow said. “There is that one in the firehouse where you are a little bit more laissez faire—you allow a little bit of time to make decisions. But, then, when you go out in the field on fire scenes or ambulance scenes, it’s more autocratic.
“There is a structure that’s more military-like. Andy’s able to switch back and forth. He’s very good at being able to use the appropriate amount of management and leadership skills when needed.”