ILION – In the long, storied history of firefighting in Herkimer County, there has never been a woman firefighter at a career department. Until now.
The Ilion Fire Department welcomed Mary View to the ranks last week – The first woman to work at the department or any in the county.
“Sometimes there might be a break given here or there in hiring, but there was none of that here,” said Village Administrator James Kramas, who served on an advisory committee that interviewed candidates and made its recommendation to the village board. “Male or female aside, she was the right candidate at the right time. She’s a very dynamic young lady from a long line of firefighters.”
View’s grandfather worked as a firefighter for the Herkimer Fire Department, and her father is currently a deputy chief with the department.
“It’s always been my dream,” View said as she practiced working the pumper at the Ilion reservoir. “Of course I had some other ideas as I grew up but I always came back to being a firefighter.”
While initially View, 25, had pictured herself at the Herkimer fire station, she is happy to be a part of Ilion’s.
“They’re great guys here and they’ve really opened up to me,” she said. “And maybe I’m glad to not be working with family after all,” she added with a laugh.
The reason there has never been a woman working at the 168-year-old department before now, Ilion Chief Robert Paddock said, is a matter of available candidates. Statistically, far fewer women enter fire service than men, he said.
“There has never been a female at the right spot on the civil service list when it has come time for us to hire,” Paddock said. “But this time around she was on the list and is highly qualified and we’re very happy to have her.”
“It’s amazing to be here,” View said. “I’m really excited. I don’t have words to explain what it feels like to have a childhood dream come true.”
View will be officially introduced to the board and the public at the next Ilion village board meeting Feb. 14.