WNY woman breaks through glass ceiling with fire hose: ‘I proved myself to these guys’

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LAKE VIEW, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local woman is breaking barriers and making history in the Southtowns. Brittany Jewett is the first ever female to be named Fire Chief in the Town of Hamburg. She’s the newest chief of the Lake View Volunteer Fire Department.

‘Everyone Goes Home’ is a motto you’ll see plastered on the engine and trucks at the Lake View Volunteer Fire Department, and Jewett’s second home has been those fire halls growing up.

“When I was a younger kid, my mom worked days, my dad worked nights, so we worked with dad all the time,” Chief Jewett said. “I became a daddy’s girl really quick. That involved me going on fire calls with dad and running the chief’s truck with dad, so when it was time to go to school I didn’t want to go to school because I wanted to go to with dad in the fire trucks.”

Brittany’s dad, Eugene, was elected the Lake View fire chief in 1995.

But that’s not all.

Her great-great-grandfather, George Spittler, was the first ever fire chief at the department in 1924. And her great-grandfather, Charles Spittler, became chief in 1958.

Brittany started at the department as a probationary firefighter in 2009. And at just 29 years old, she’s worked her way up to the top: overseeing two fire halls, 40 active firefighters and up to 600 calls a year. She’ll be officially installed as the chief on Saturday night.

When asked what it’s like to be the leader in a male-dominated field, Brittany said her gender really hasn’t affected anything.

“Men and women here really respect me for what I do and who I am, which is awesome,” she said. “They back me 100 percent, so it’s really not difficult. I proved myself to these guys, when I wasn’t a chief, I was leading them in the trucks when I was a captain, so I proved my leadership skills there, and their trust in them. So from there, I had a lot of backing there to become chief.”

By the way, the Lake View Volunteer Fire Department is just that: all volunteer. So, Brittany’s job as chief is not her full-time job. She works at West Herr during the day, and said the company is very flexible with her when issues arise.

If you know of a Woman Leading WNY, email Kelsey Anderson at kelsey.anderson@wivb.com.

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