Goshen, Mass., has selected Susan Labrie to be the town’s new fire chief. She succeeds Chief Francis Dresser, who retired in July after more than 50 years as head of the Goshen Fire Department.
Not only is Labrie the town’s first female fire chief, she is the first woman to head a fire department in the state of Massachusetts. Gender was not a consideration in her appointment, though, says Kevin Lacey, who chairs the board of selectmen that is the town's executive body. Labrie’s selection, he says, was based on her experience.
Labrie recognizes her status as the first female chief in the state but is somewhat dismissive of the distinction. "I don't feel gender is an issue with fire service as long as you can pull your weight," she says.
Labrie, 42, has been a volunteer firefighter with the department since she and her husband moved to the Hampshire County town of less than 1,000 residents 17 years ago. The department has 18 volunteers (including her husband) who respond to about 40 calls a year.