Responding to emergency calls, battling blazes, helping with rescues, and training others are all tasks Bettendorf firefighter Andy Sheehan takes on.
But he goes above and beyond to help others.
Sheehan, 36, was recently awarded the Governor’s Firefighter of the Year award for providing outstanding service to the state of Iowa.
He was nominated for the annual award by Assistant Bettendorf Fire Chief Steve Knorrek, who said Sheehan participates in training activities and supports volunteer programs for burn survivors.
“Andy is enthusiastic and sincere and strives to do his best in everything that he does," Knorrek said. "He has been involved in our Fire Explorer program and has interacted well with our youth. He has been a willing listener and helped with their concerns whether related to Explorer events or events in their lives."
The honor came as a surprise to Sheehan.
“It was totally not on my radar. I had the ‘Are you serious?’ moment. We don’t do what we do to be recognized, but I feel God has a place for me to help others, and to be recognized for that is truly special, Sheehan said.
After serving as a volunteer firefighter for three years, Sheehan was hired as a career firefighter in 2007.
“As I got older, I realized that rush and sudden fulfillment to stop what you’re doing at any given time and help someone in dire need — that kind of commitment really piqued my interest,” he said.
Sheehan works on the Bettendorf Fire Department’s training shift. A typical day includes fire calls, vehicle checks, station cleaning, and planning future training sessions for other firefighters, as well as tours and fire prevention talks.
He spends some of his vacation time helping burn victims through the St. Florian Fire and Burn Foundation.
In addition to serving on its board, Sheehan is a counselor each summer at Miracle Burn Camp for kids. Working at the camp is important for Sheehan, as he sees some burn survivors who are initially treated by firefighters recover and return to a normal life.
“It’s a simple closure moment for me. It’s amazing how much more they can do for me than I can do for them. It’s a passion of mine, and it’s heartwarming to be part of the life of someone who’s had a traumatic injury,” he said.
In addition to being a firefighter and EMT, Sheehan also is part of a technical rescue team that responds when people are trapped in situations such as a structural or in a confined space.
“There was a gentleman trapped in the Maquoketa Caves about 400 feet down. I was one of numerous people there to assist over many hours to get him out. We were maintaining oxygen levels in the cave, keeping lines of communication open with rescuers, and chipping away pieces of rock around his body,” Sheehan said of the rescue that happened about four years ago.
Sheehan resides in Bettendorf with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters.