LEWISTON – Larry “Chip” Pettingill, a 24-year veteran with the Lewiston Fire Department, recently retired. He was hired on March 16, 1981, and started his career by “floating” between Engine 5 on Main Street and Engine 4 on Sabattus Street, where he completed his firefighting days.

Pettingill said he was grateful that, other than a few bruises and stitches, the only real injuries he received were muscle strains.

He said the only real “scary” incident occurred when he just missed being involved in a floor collapse at a Pleasant Street fire. The floor caved in, with fire ensuing everywhere, seconds after he had left the room.

Any fire where lives are lost are difficult, but one of the toughest calls he had was finding a baby that had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, when he had a child the same age.

Pettingill said the 9-11 tragedy hit home. “Though I didn’t know any of the rescue workers, the loss still felt like I had lost my very own brothers and sisters,” he said.

The firefighter said, in general, the highlights of his career were “becoming a firefighter. Becoming an EMT. Getting the chance to work with the best firefighters, men (and woman), I have known.”

He had been having second thoughts about retiring, and on his last day his son, Matt, visited the station to show him an acceptance letter to college. While he was there, a call came in for a reported structure fire. “My adrenaline was flowing, and as I was getting dressed, we looked at each other, and he told me to be careful.’ Any doubts that I had just vanished with those words from him,” said Pettingill.

He plans to work in the Rowe Ford Auto Parts Department.

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