SOUTHINGTON — A town firefighter retired last week after more than 30 years with the department.
Lee Dibble, 59, who retired Friday, joined Station 5 as a volunteer in 1981 before becoming a career firefighter in 1986.
“I like(d) the job, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “Everyone who joins loves being a firefighter.”
Dibble said one of the most noteworthy moments of his career was the Popular Restaurant fire in 1991. Dibble recalls fighting the fire inside the building when the floor partially caved in. He also fought the fire from the basement of the restaurant while the upstairs was burning, and said he was lucky to survive.
Still, Dibble said his most memorable moments were the times he spent with fellow firefighters.
“The best times I’ve had is just being in the firehouse with my second family,” he said.
Dibble estimated he fought between 75 and 100 major residential and business fires during his career.
He said technology in firefighting has changed over the years. When he joined the department, firefighters wore rubber boots and long coats, in contrast to the modern-day full pant and jacket; a safer alternative.
Fire Chief Eric Heath said Anthony Esteves, a former volunteer firefighter with about eight years experience , was selected last month to fill Dibble’s vacancy.
“I couldn’t be more happy that he got the job,” Dibble said.