For the first time in the Southold Fire Department’s 128-year history, a woman will lead its ranks.
Peggy Killian was elected as the department’s fire chief Thursday night, marking just the second time in North Fork history that a woman has been named the head chief of a fire department. She was sworn in at Southold Fire Department’s annual dinner on Sunday.
Ms. Killian joined the department in 1991, after she had worked as an emergency medical technician for a private company in Southold. She’s served on the department’s water rescue team, the rescue team, and was the captain of the Protection Engine Company No. 1.
Ms. Killian — an advanced certified EMT — has also delivered six babies during her time on the department.
While serving as a woman has been challenging, Ms. Killian said she doesn’t see herself as a woman in the fire department: she’s just another one of the firefighters.
“I’m just moving from this seat to that seat,” she said in an interview last week, pointing to the head chief’s desk across the room. “I don’t look at it as a female-versus-male thing. I work as a mechanic. I’ve been in a male field my whole life.”
Ms. Killian was also quick to downplay her own accomplishments, saying that she’s honored to be a member of the close-knit department.
Still, her fellow volunteers say her dedication sets her apart.
“She’s a remarkable person who gives 100 percent to everything she does,” said Bill Byrnes, Southold’s outgoing chief.
See this week’s Suffolk Times to read more about Ms. Killian’s career and her reflections on being elected chief.