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Lawrence County gets its first female fire chief

Dutey aims to give back to community

By Taylor Burnette

The Ironton Tribune

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Kim Dutey began her career as a volunteer firefighter as a way of giving back to the community she grew up in.

When the longtime chief of the Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department stepped down, her fellow firefighters asked her to apply for the position.

Dutey, an Ironton native, began working for the volunteer fire department 12 years ago, and has been working as a paramedic for nearly 20 years.

“The volunteer part has always just been to give back to the community that raised me,” Dutey said. “I was a softball kid, a soccer kid, anything that you can imagine and it was just … expected out of me, was to give back.”

Many people mentioned to Dutey that she was the first female fire chief in the county, but she brushed it off until Michael Boster, the director of the Lawrence County Emergency Management Association, confirmed it.

“It’s very humbling,” Dutey said, “It means the world to me to know that, you know, they trusted me enough to let me fill that position. And hopefully it’s inspiring other women to do the same.”

Dutey said she does not believe any woman has been turned down for the position previously, but it has just been a matter of timing and when the position opened up. She has never been second guessed because she was a woman in either of her careers, she said.

To the young women who may be nervous to enter firefighting, Dutey said for them to come down to her station, because her department is a family.

“We actually have equal parts male and women, there are men and women that are doing the job,” Dutey said.

Although, historically, departments have not always been this way, Dutey said, many women have been paving the way. A good example of that, Dutey said, is Jan Rader, the nationally recognized Huntington fire chief.

“I definitely think that things have changed,” Dutey said. “Back in the ‘60s, women weren’t even allowed on the fire department. They were only considered auxiliary members.”

Dutey is glad to see the tide changing, and seeing that men and women alike are coming to believe that gender doesn’t matter so long as you can do the job. Although the male firefighters may still open doors for her, they never hesitate to follow an order.

Going into the future, Dutey said she hopes to see more young people get involved in volunteering for the department.

“I would love to see the younger generation become more involved,” Dutey said. “We have a lack of a specific age group. You know, it used to be 18-to-19-year olds, they floated the fire departments. Now we don’t. … If seeing that a girl is a chief and it opens up the doors for those girls that maybe they thought they might want to do it, I think it would be awesome to see that.”

Dutey said she has the support of her family and an incredible group of fellow firefighters and a former chief.

“We’ve got a lot of really good, good people and it’s a family,” Dutey said.