Historic Moment For New York Volunteer Fire Company

Symington joined the fire department after a presentation at her high school.
(Mountain View Fire Company photo)

Lisa Symington becomes Mountain View’s
first female fire chief

Kenneth C. Crowe II, Times Union, Albany, N.Y.


Jan. 10–BRUNSWICK – The Mountain View Fire Company responded to its first call of 2021 on Jan. 2 and set a historic first for the town’s volunteer firefighters.

Mountain View Fire Chief Lisa Symington became the first woman to take the helm of one of the town’s five fire departments on Jan. 1. The next day she oversaw her first emergency response as chief, the top firefighting official in the company.

“You have to be aware of everything,” said Symington, 32, about the difference in leading the EMS call instead of just participating as a department member.

A 15-year veteran of Mountain View, Symington said she’s looking forward to learning from each new experience as chief and being a role model for the three other women in her department and across the rest of Rensselaer County. Symington currently is the only woman serving as a department’s fire chief in the county.

Former Chief John Houser Jr. said Symington will be outstanding as fire chief, as she builds on her experience and strives for excellence.

“She’s been a dedicated member of the department. She’s a good motivator, a good leader. I have all the confidence leaving the department in her hands. She’s definitely a go-getter,” said Hauser, who is now serving again as a firefighter.

Symington’s rise to fire chief began when she was a senior at Averill Park High School and heard a presentation on serving as a volunteer firefighter. Growing up around Troy, she had always considered firefighting limited to full-time paid firefighters. A visit to Mountain View led Symington to volunteer, become an EMT and changed her direction in life, she said.

Symington’s finding new challenges that reflect the impact of the pandemic on preparing firefighters for battling fires and assisting the public.

“I had my first drill in charge as chief on Tuesday. It was virtual,” Symington said. “Training is a big thing for me.”

Symington wants to build a FAST training facility on site for Mountain View, which is headquartered at 2 Shafter Ave. just off Mountain View Avenue. FAST is the acronym for firefighter assist and search team, which is specially trained firefighters who stand by to help pull out firefighters trapped in a blaze.

“It’s intense. You really have to be a team,” Symington said.

Brunswick Supervisor Phil Herrington expects Symington will achieve that and strengthen the town’s firefighting abilities.

“She will do an excellent job. I’m real excited that she is the first woman to be fire chief in the town of Brunswick. The best part is, she’s enthusiastic,” Herrington said.

Symington and her husband, Al Symington, have two children, Mackenzie, 5, and Emery, 2. She works for Rensselaer County Child Protective Services.

Volunteering, Symington said, has led her to form friendships from Pittstown and Hoosick through Brunswick down to the county’s southern communities. The strongest friendships are in Mountain View.

“I could pull out my phone and call 25 different people and get 25 responses,” she said.

What is important is keeping in mind the public and how to respond to their calls, Symington said. “It might be a routine call. For them when they call 911 it’s an emergency.”


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