NEW LENOX – After 45 years in fire service and three years running the New Lenox Fire Protection District, Steve Engledow will retire June 23.
Engledow, who was a Joliet firefighter for 28 years and Troy fire chief for five years, said Thursday, “It’s time for the younger group to take over.”
He said the fire board of trustees will choose his replacement at a later date, but he will not be involved in the hiring process.
Engledow said he was hired in New Lenox to reorganize the department, splitting some jobs and condensing others while clarifying who some responsibilities were assigned to. He also enacted a line-item budget to control spending each year and implemented an equipment replacement schedule.
“Some apparatus and equipment need to be replaced every other year or every third year,” Engledow said. “Scheduling keeps you from needing to replace two or three ambulances as you go into your budget year.”
Engledow grew up in Harvey, moved to Frankfort when he was 15 and attended Lincoln-Way High School. Holiday shifts at an early job required joining the chemical factory’s fire brigade.
“That’s where I met a Frankfort volunteer (firefighter), and they needed people during the day, which I could do, so I joined Frankfort and I really enjoyed it. I like helping people,” Engledow said.
He enjoyed it enough to abandon his plans for a career in dentistry. After serving as a Country Club Hills firefighter, he became a Joliet firefighter and eventually rose to deputy chief. He also served as a part-time assistant chief for the East Joliet Fire Department before taking over the Troy Fire Protection District.
Engledow said he advises any firefighters beginning their careers to pursue as much education as possible.
“The fire service becomes more technical every year,” he said. “You need a bachelor’s degree for administration, and I think a master’s degree is going to start becoming the requirement.”
Engledow will be moving to South Carolina, where he has owned property for several years, but he and his wife, Sherry, will return to the area to visit relatives and friends.
“I’m done with fire service, but I will have to find something to do,” Engledow said. “Sailing is still my favorite thing. I’d like to find a boat down there that needs some work. That will keep me busy.”