LEWISTON – Lewiston Fire Department veteran David Gagnon retired recently, having served 24 years in the department. His entry date was on April 26, 1982, and he spent most of his time running out of the Lisbon Street station, Lincoln Street station and Main Street station, his latest stint. His first working fire was on Riverside Place. It was his first day on duty.

A few career memories include a mill fire in which he got stuck on the second floor with two other crew members and almost ran out of air in his tank, when a deputy chief was able to guide them out.

Another time at Pleasant View Acres, he was first in a fire when, as he was about to enter the room, the door suddenly slammed shut in his face. As he opened it after that, he discovered the door shut because the totally involved ceiling had collapsed and would have trapped him.

In 1983 at an apartment building fire on East Avenue, Gagnon rescued a middle-aged man from his burning unit. His most memorable fire was the Birch and Bates fire involving seven buildings.

He saw his share of tough moments with fatalities, especially at two tragic accidents. Another time there was a sudden infant death involving a young boy the same age as his own son. In those days, no psychological debriefing was available.

Gagnon had his own share of health issues, including almost losing a finger during training, being overcome from smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion while venting a fire, and in 1993, he was diagnosed with unstable angina and had to have heart quadruple bypass surgery.

Gagnon has an associate’s degree in business from University of Maine and has served as treasurer for the Professional Firefighters of Maine.

He will pursue a new career driving a tour bus.

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