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Three firefighters hang up their gear

January 24, 2006|By By Lauren Vane

Newport Beach Fire Department honors men who gave a combined 92 years of service to city.In his 38-year career with the Newport Beach Fire Department, Capt. Mike Murphy has responded to some dramatic calls. He's pulled a man out of a burning car and breathed life into an infant who nearly drowned in a swimming pool.

But as he worked his final shift before retirement Thursday morning, Murphy responded valiantly to his last call: He chased a skunk out of a garage.

"You just never know what the call is going to be," Murphy said.

Murphy is one of three veteran Newport firefighters who hung up their yellow turnout gear this week. Murphy, joined by engineers Jeff Remmele and Mike Meehan, have a combined 92 years of service with Newport Fire.

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"It's a big loss," said Battalion Chief Ralph Restadius. "The expertise that they passed on to the new people ... is definitely going to be missed."

It was standing room only as co-workers, friends and family turned out to show their appreciation Friday morning at a goodbye breakfast held at Mutt Lynch's on the Balboa Peninsula.

"I can't think of a better place to work or better people to work with," Remmele said. "This is the best experience of my life."

"What makes this a great job ... is not the job, it's the people," Meehan said.

For Remmele, becoming a firefighter was a second career.

With a bachelor's degree in meteorology and a master's in urban planning, Remmele worked for the city of Beverly Hills before starting his fire career in San Clemente.

He also has an interest in finance and serves as the treasurer for the Newport Beach Firefighters Assn.

"He brings a skill set that is not only very interesting, but is very valuable to us, and we're sorry to see that go," said Capt. Rich Thomas.

When Meehan signed up to be a firefighter 28 years ago, he was entering into a family tradition.

His father, Milt Meehan, was a battalion chief who retired around the same time his son was hired.

Around the station, Meehan was known for his unending supply of ideas and commitment for improvement.

"When I was a new fireman, I always enjoyed working with him ... because he would spend so much time going through the stuff and with so much wit," Thomas said.

Co-workers described Murphy as a legend. His humor and his knowledge of the city will be missed, Restadius said.

Murphy grew up in Newport Beach. From the window of the Balboa Peninsula fire station, he can see his house on Bay Island.

He's worked at the station for 18 years, and co-workers said he's truly been a part of the neighborhood.

To show their appreciation, the neighbors planned to close down the street and throw a block party for Murphy.

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