EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — A firefighter with 16 years on the job died in the line of duty when he suffered a cardiac arrest on Wednesday at the Public Safety Building.
Capt. Peter Larlee, 57, of East Millinocket had returned from several emergency calls and was in the truck bay about to do repair work on an ambulance when he collapsed suddenly about 2:50 p.m. Several other firefighters tried to help immediately, but efforts to resuscitate him were not successful, Fire Chief Les Brown said in a statement released Thursday.
Firefighters described Larlee as a caring and capable leader who worked hard to keep crews safe. He was known, they said, for praising others publicly and admonishing them, if needed, only privately. He also was remembered for having a good sense of humor and warm personality.
Lincoln fire Capt. Ken Goslin experienced Larlee’s subtle style about eight years ago.
“First time I met him I was up at East Millinocket for training. I made a joke at the expense of [another firefighter]. He followed me out afterward and shook my hand and told me that I was welcome anytime,” Goslin said.
The tone of Larlee’s voice was amiable, but the message was clear — don’t joke like that. The gentle admonition still strikes the 28-year-old Goslin as an example of old-school class.
“He was a fixture at the station in East Millinocket, and when he was at our station, he was always chatting us up to see how we were doing. He was just a great guy. The kind of guy that would do anything for you,” Goslin said.
Larlee’s death “hit us all in this area very hard. It was a big shock,” Medway Fire Chief Jon Buckingham said.
“You never had to worry about what Pete was thinking because he was the kind of guy who would tell you exactly how he felt. He always tried to make people laugh. You could be having the worst day, and he would come up behind you and give you a hug,” Buckingham added.
Brown said he will not respond to further requests for statements and asked that town workers “be given the time and space needed to grieve their loss.”
The outpouring of condolences has been gratifying and humbling to the Larlee family, according to Larlee’s daughter Robin Larlee.
“What he embodied was to always be kind, love longer, give a helping hand, have a listening ear, and just be a friend. He will truly be missed every day, but his memory will live on, always,” she said.
Peter Larlee’s wake and funeral will be held on Saturday, March 5, at the Calvary Temple Assembly of God in East Millinocket. Wake hours will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The funeral will follow, Robin Larlee said.