Last week, I was happy to talk with Mike Shutts and learn more about his father, George Shutts, who served as the captain of Engine 6 from 1977-1978 and again from 1981-1988.

George Shutts in front of the Engine 6 firehouse on Union Street. Also shown is the 750 gallons-per-minute Mack truck that was in service at Engine 6 from August 1982 to December 2002. South Portland Historical Society photo

George was born in 1934 and grew up in Ohio. As a young adult, he enlisted and served active duty in the United States Coast Guard from about 1954 to 1958. During this time, he was stationed in Maine and met South Portland girl Lorraine Dougherty.

They married and moved to Ohio where they lived until 1967 when they moved back to South Portland, living at first with family on Mussey Street and later buying their home on Wythburn Road in 1968 where he and Lorraine would raise their five children.

He worked first as a printer at Maine Printing and then got a job with General Electric at its South Portland plant in 1969. He was employed by GE as a medical maintenance coordinator and worked for them right up until the plant closed in 1983.

George earned his EMT license in December 1983, and was hired in January 1984 by the city of South Portland where he worked as a dispatcher for the fire department. He loved being a dispatcher and retired from that position in June of 1996.

George learned about the Engine 6 call company through his neighbor, Norm D’Entremont, and joined the company in 1972. It was a perfect fit for a very friendly, sociable guy. His son Mike said that they always had a scanner in the house. It was just part of life when your dad was a firefighter. George really loved the networking and friendships that he made through the call company.

He was friendly and charismatic, so he was a natural leader and served as captain of the company for many years. George loved going out on calls, he was a member of the muster

George Shutts at the console while working as a dispatcher for the South Portland Fire Department. South Portland Historical Society photo

team, and he’d go to fire expositions in Baltimore, or Springfield, Massachusetts, where they could see exhibits of the latest in equipment and trucks. He’d get other firefighters to go with him to the expositions, so it would often be George and other Engine 6 membe

George Shutts’ son, Mike Shutts, also served as a firefighter on Engine 6. Mike is shown with his daughter, Audrey, in 2001, when he was promoted to deputy fire chief at the Portland Fire Department. South Portland Historical Society photo

rs like Jeff Ladd or Joe Nalbach.

George would also go to the Maine state weekends at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where firefighters could practice and build on their firefighting skills. Firefighters paid their own way to go to the fire academy or found a sponsor for the trip.

 

When there were parades on Memorial Day or Veterans Day, or the Spring Point Festival, George would always be in attendance. He would also look for opportunities to fundraise for Engine 6. He’d have the company do things like set up the art stands for the WCSH Sidewalk Art Festival in Portland and the company would receive some funds from that which could be used toward purchasing new equipment or further training.

Two of George’s sons also joined the Engine 6 call company while he was there.

His son Mike joined in 1975 and served with the company through 1984 (Mike would also have a career as a professional firefighter with the Portland Fire Department). George’s son Kevin ran with Engine 6 for 10 years, as well.

George retired from Engine 6 in 2002, after 30 years of service with this neighborhood call company. When he died in 2008, he was given a full firefighter’s funeral. His casket rode on the Engine 6 antique 1941 Mack truck to Calvary Cemetery where there were bagpipes and a “last call.”

George Shutts was a valued member of the company and served our community well.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society. She can be reached at [email protected]

 

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