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Goshen First Town in State With Woman as Fire Chief - Republican - 08/23/2006


Goshen First Town in State With Woman as Fire Chief

© The Republican Company .  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.


GOSHEN – Score one for women.

Goshen became the first town in Massachusetts to appoint a woman fire chief this week.

Selectmen named Susan M. Labrie to the town's top fire post Monday night. Labrie, 42, has been a volunteer ever since she and her husband moved here from Chicopee 17 years ago.

Three applied for the job to succeed Francis Dresser, who retired after more than 50 years on July 1. Selectmen chairman Kevin A. Lacey said hiring Labrie had nothing to do with her gender. Based on her background and experience "we all felt she was the perfect candidate for the job" for the long-term.

Labrie found out that she got the job Monday night via a text-message one her cell phone while she was working emergency services at the James Taylor concert at Tanglewood in Lenox.

"I was very happy," she said.

Labrie said she knew that she would be the first female fire chief after she had talked to Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state Department of Fire Services. "That was an added bonus," Labrie said.

But, Labrie said, "I don't feel gender plays an issue with fire service as long as you can pull your weight."

The position pays just under $3,000, Lacey said, just enough to cover expenses.

The department has 18 volunteers who respond to about 40 calls a year from chimney fires to bicycle and horse accidents, Labrie said. And while a private ambulance company provides transport, firefighters are first-responders.

(August 23, 2006)