TOPEKA, Kan, (WIBW) -- More than 27 years ago a friend of Captain Larry Peters said he was going to take a test to become a firefighter.
“I said, 'well, hey, I’m going to take the test too.' He didn’t pass. I did. And I got the job,” Peter said.
The rest was history.
He joined the Topeka Fire Department in 1992 and since then he’s not a lot to be proud of.
Cleaning up the TFD
Capt. Peters is in charge of taking care of the bunker gear. He makes sure the gear is repaired when necessary and cleaned regularly.
“When I first came on the job we did not clean our gear. And we wore it dirty. And to some guys, the mark of a good fireman was having dirty gear,” he explained.
He helped change the way the department takes care of the gear.
A lot of things such as carcinogens collect on the gear over time and he makes sure it is safe at all times.
“The man makes the man. The gear does not make the man. So you will see the majority of firefighters wearing clean gear today. It doesn’t mean that they don’t fight fire. It means that we wash our gear today. And that’s one of the very things that I’m proud of,” he added.
Fifteen years ago, Capt. Peters and another firefighter won the department’s second highest medal for their quick action that saved two firefighter’s lives.
“They fell through the burned out stairs. And somehow, I don’t know how we did it, we pulled him up and Gill and I pulled him up out of the basement, and I don’t know how we did it,” he remembered.
He says he jumped into action without a second thought, and he said it’s just part of the job.
Six years ago, he became Captain.
He made Station No. 6 in the Oakland Neighborhood his second home and embraced the community.
He also helped save the fire hydrant that sits right outside of the station. He gathered several local artists and community members who helped decorate the hydrant with drawings that reflect the community.
Shawn Frank with the Topeka Fire Department said his Captain has become very popular.
“We always have people come here all the time looking for him, dropping cookies off, dropping food off. You know coming to say hi,” he said.
Peters said his time in Oakland have been some of the best years of his life.
While there have been so many great moments in his past, Capt. Peters is looking forward to his next chapter.
He will retire in the middle of March.
“I have a beautiful wife at home that’s waiting for me to come spend time with,” he said with a smile.
He said there is a lot he is sad to leave behind.
“I’m going to miss the men that I work with, the people that I work with. I’m going to miss seeing the people in the community here,” he said.
However he said he’s just happy to have had a fulfilling career.
“I’ve always found something for the last 15 years of my career to find something to be involved with and help out the department and do more,” he said.
Firefighters at Station No. 6 say whoever comes in next will have some big shoes to fill.