Mass. Fire Department Names First Female Fire Captain

Mass. Fire Department Names First Female Fire Captain

News Feb 14, 2018

MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, Mass.

Feb. 14—When Fire Captain Angela Lawless was young, her father, part of the York, Maine volunteer fire department, would take her along when he responded to emergencies.

"It made a big impact on me," said Lawless, now a Holliston resident.

Today Lawless is Maynard's first female fire captain, the second woman hired on the department—the first full-timer—and one of just two full-time women on staff. She's also been a call firefighter in Holliston since 2006.

"She's been outstanding since day one," Fire Chief Anthony Stowers said. "I've hired a lot of people since I've been chief here in Maynard. She's one of the best people I've ever hired."

That doesn't stop the surprised looks when Lawless or Maynard's only other female firefighter, Wayland's Jessica Gennaro, drive the engine. People point, they said.

Lawless, who's been with the department since 2012, and was promoted to captain Jan. 26, said she hopes to dispel those stereotypes.

She recognizes Maynard's milestone, but said she doesn't think about her gender on the job. In an emergency, she said, it doesn't matter that she's a woman.

"Fire doesn't judge... It doesn't care if you're a man or a woman," she said. "I just feel like I want to do a good job at my role, regardless of gender."

Lawless said she loves everything about the job, but is drawn most to the medical side.

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"I like to have the opportunity to take someone's really bad day and make it better," she said. Later, she added, "I like that you never know what you're going to be doing from one moment to the next. It's never a boring job."

Lawless is a solid problem-solver, Stowers said, respected by her peers, and always willing to go the extra mile. She was the only candidate for the job, he admitted, but no one questioned her promotion.

"Angela's been a role model, not just for women, but for anybody," Stowers said. "She's certainly been a role model for younger firefighters we've hired."

Pointing to the impact of both her biological father's and her step-father's firefighting careers had on her, Lawless said she wants to be a similar positive influence on her new community. As a captain, she wants to focus on more community outreach, from schoolchildren to senior citizens.

She works to stop or at least mitigate injuries and incidents before they happen, she said. That means slip-and-fall prevention for seniors, inspecting daycare centers for baby dangers, and initiatives as simple as reminding people that their house numbers help guide ambulances.

"You'd be amazed how many people don't have adequate house numbers," she marveled.

She also focuses on firefighter fitness, or workouts that translate into on-the-job skills, like slinging heavy objects.

"There's a whole thing about how we're occupational athletes," Lawless said. "We have to be ready to go spend hours in a very taxing environment."

Stowers said his department hasn't had a lot of female applicants over the years, but that might be changing.

"We've just had very few female applicants," he said. "That is changing as time goes on. We have more and more women interested in the job."

Source
McClatchy
Alison Bosma
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