He combined a quick, no nonsense dispatching style with a serendipitous ability to make friends, and is being mourned by fellow firefighters and dispatchers up and down the east coast. Harold "Harry" Doyle, respected dispatcher, died Sunday of a heart attack.
"There were no strangers with Harry, just friends he hadn't met yet," said Chuck Holloran, a fellow dispatcher in Salem, Mass. "He was always there, always smiling…He was the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet."
And all it took was one meeting to become a friend of Doyle's. Halloran met Doyle by chance at the Fireman's Hall Museum Fire Safety Expo and Muster in Philadelphia. They spoke as fellow dispatchers and parted ways at the convention, only to end up at the same cheesesteak spot thanks to mutual friends.
"It was a friendship that was immediately born…We spent time chasing fires, riding around, taking pictures together," said Halloran of their almost 30-year friendship. "It didn't matter where we were. If one of us was there, the other one would be there."
Even on the scene of a fire, Doyle had an ability to create a lasting friendship. He met Ira Rubin at a fire.
"I was covering a fire for a TV news company and I got to talking with Harry for some reason," said Rubin. "It was a chance meeting and we became friends."
Almost 40 years later, Rubin is a dispatcher himself in Jersey City.
"I used to like listening to him," said Rubin. "It was really cool just to listen to him with his knowledge of the companies, saying 'You go here, you go there,' and I try to emulate that."
His voice is forever immortalized in the 1992 documentary, "Brothers in Battle," by Raymond and Brian Hickey. According to a memorial message on FireFighterCloseCalls.com, he is the first dispatcher heard in the background of the film.
While Doyle made his living assessing fire calls coming in to the Syosset Fire Department and sending the appropriate crews to the scene, his talent blossomed when he discovered his love for photography.
A member of the International Fire Photographers Association, the National Press Photographers Association and the Boston Sparks Association, Doyle's love of photography grew with each shot he took. His website boasts dozens of colorful and dramatic images of billowing smoke, somber memorials, and snowy firehouses.
Funeral services for Harry Doyle will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Virgilous Church in Broad Channel. Doyle is survived by a daughter, Caitlin, stepson, William, and stepson Michael.
Did you know Harry Doyle? Remember him here by sharing your favorite memories in the comments.