MERRIONETTE PARK, Ill. (CBS) — One of the award-winning photographers laid off by the Chicago Sun-Times in May has returned to what he considers his true calling: firefighting.

“I am a fireman who takes pictures,” said Scott Stewart, who worked for the newspaper for 28 years before management laid off nearly the entire photography staff four months ago.

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WBBM Newsradio’s Keith Johnson reports Stewart was a fire captain in southwest suburban Merrionette Park before working at the Sun-Times.

When the Sun-Times laid off their photographers in May, the Merrionette Park Fire Department called Stewart.

“They said ‘What can we do to help you out? We know the situation that you’re under,’” Stewart said. “Kiddingly, I said ‘How about taking the old-timer back?’”

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They took him up on it, and Stewart has started over again as a probationary firefighter, doubling as the department’s official photographer. He also works as an investigator for nearby Evergreen Park.

“It’s been a great ride so far. I mean, the department has grown four-fold,” he said.

He said everyone at the department has been great to him, but he admits it can sometimes be a challenge to keep up.

“I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’m 57 years of age, and I’m trying to keep up with 25-year-old to 30-year old kids, you know, who are out here, who could outlast me, but I try to outlast them,” he said.

Stewart said he’s grateful to his comrades on the force, even as he holds out hope his photo credit could again appear in print.

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“Miracles do happen. Something could change,” he said.