Editorial: Women shouldn’t hesitate to join fire department ranks

04/10/2014 11:18 AM |
Southold Fire Department Chief Peggy Killian during Sunday night's annual awards and installation dinner. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Southold Fire Department Chief Peggy Killian during Sunday night’s annual awards and installation dinner. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Any experienced firefighter will tell you tenacity and perseverance are more valuable on the front lines than, say, physique or raw strength. It’s about pushing forward through a fire, calmly and bravely, and reaching out in the dark for that victim’s arm or leg.

It’s also about being able to make judgment calls, such as knowing when to turn back.

Call it heart and smarts — qualities that are by no means unique to men.

And that’s why women shouldn’t hesitate to volunteer.

Let the Southold Fire Department’s first female chief, Peggy Killian, be your inspiration.

Not only is she accepted among the men, she’s revered. Remember that chiefs in local fire departments aren’t appointed and do not reach their positions by passing civil service tests. They’re voted into their office by fellow firefighters, as Ms. Killian was last week. That speaks not only to her abilities, but to the character of the mostly male colleagues who voted for her.

It’s a no-brainer that when it comes to responding to any emergency scene, the more people on hand the better — and there are a variety of roles for those looking to help.

In the spirit of National Volunteer Week, we are reminded that our fire departments and ambulance corps are always in need of people — all kinds of people.

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