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Jan 12, 2018 3:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Eastport Firefighter Is Department's First Elected Female Officer

Virginia Massey is the first female elected officer at the Eastport Fire Department. VALERIE GORDON
Jan 14, 2018 3:47 PM

The new year has much in store for Eastport Fire Department volunteer Virginia Massey.

On January 1, the 20-year-old became the outfit’s first elected female officer, and she now holds the title of 2nd lieutenant for the Mercury Hose Company.

“I’m very excited to be able to learn more and help more people,” she said on Thursday, January 11. “I have a little bit more power now and I’m excited to learn more about what this means for me.”

As a fourth-generation Eastport resident, Lt. Massey has been surrounded by firefighters her entire life, including the night she was born.

Lt. Massey’s father, Kurt, was chief of the Eastport Fire Department in 1998, and on the night he picked up his wife and newborn daughter from Southampton Hospital, he responded to the scene of a house fire—with his less than week-old daughter sleeping in the backseat.

Inspired by her both her father and grandfather, Chester Massey, a 61-year veteran of the Eastport Fire Department, Lt. Massey joined the outfit’s junior firefighter program at the age of 12. It was there that she held her first high-ranking position, serving as the group’s captain for two years.

In 2013 she was named the department’s Junior Firefighter of the Year and, in September 2014, she became the outfit’s second female volunteer firefighter since the Union Avenue station opened in 1913.

“I really do enjoy being a firefighter,” Lt. Massey said. “I go out and I save someone’s life [but] I always had it in my head that I wanted to do a bit more.”

She credited two individuals—1st Assistant Chief of the Department, Michael Tortorice and former Chief Matt Stevens—for encouraging her to step up and take on more responsibility within her hometown fire department. She explained that her new duties include working with her fellow officers to train new recruits, and regularly inspecting and testing the department’s equipment.

“I don’t necessarily have a plan right now,” she said. “My goal is to learn what it means to be a lieutenant and earn everyone’s respect.”

But respect isn’t the only thing on Lt. Massey’s mind as she settles into her new role. She explained that as the department’s first elected female officer, she hopes to inspire other young women to follow in her footsteps.

“I hope that a young woman sees this and she realizes that she’s able to be that,” Lt. Massey said. “Even the women that I see in the fire department, they inspire me. It’s just a big family.”

In a prepared statement, Eastport Chief Mark Yakaboski congratulated his new lieutenant on her successes.

“It will be an honor to work with the first female officer of the Eastport Fire Department,” Chief Yakaboski said. “Virginia’s enthusiasm and drive will be an asset to the department moving forward.”

Regarding her future plans, Lt. Massey said she would like to pursue a career in firefighting, noting that her cousin, Ross Massey, is a paid firefighter in Virginia. She does have other interests, however.

Lt. Massey is currently enrolled at the Suffolk County Community College’s eastern campus, where she intends to switch her major from graphic design to general studies, noting that she is making the change so she can earn her EMT certification. When she’s not in school or at the firehouse, she can often be found at the Brunetti Salon in Westhampton Beach, where she has worked as a hair washing assistant for the past two years.

“I really do just enjoy being there,” Lt. Massey said, referring to her time spent at the Union Avenue firehouse. “I really hope that I am there for a very long time and I can continue helping others as they have helped me.”

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Well done Virginia. My department has many women.

By knitter (1653), Southampton on Jan 14, 18 10:02 AM
Told ya!!! Well done kid. Can’t wait to see what this new year has in store for you. As always we are all here for you.
By Tom Jacobsen (2), Eastport on Jan 14, 18 2:57 PM
as long as she can pass the same test the men are required to pass and they have a separate locker room facility for her, then why not.

just don't sue the town in 3 years because you heard a off color joke around the fire house. or try and take one of our husbands to hr because he holds a door open for you lol, remember when you want to be a part of these things what you signed up for ladies.

and congratulations
By Erin 27 E (1186), hampton bays on Jan 14, 18 7:21 PM
All she (or anybody ) ever signs up for is to be treated like a equal and decent human being. I get the feeling that this is a concept you wouldn't understand.
By johnj (966), Westhampton on Jan 15, 18 11:15 AM
john are you following me ? of course i understand. I m just saying don't go into a tree house and be surprised you find monkeys living there.

come on now , don't play dumb you know what I'm saying. i think its great and said congratulations.... just saying don't try and change the environment you signed up for !

I'm sure virginia is not that kind of girl, she seems like an honest go getter and thats awesome. again congratulations!
By Erin 27 E (1186), hampton bays on Jan 15, 18 1:47 PM
Maybe instead of saying more Power a better way of putting it would have been, more responsibility. but never the less good luck to you.
By Undocumented Democrat (1910), southampton on Jan 15, 18 4:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
It was a backhanded compliment and she certainly is not a girl, but a grown woman.
By Infoseeker (271), Hampton Bays on Jan 15, 18 7:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thats right info, Erin just forgot, 20 year olds are "woman" its not until you hit about 36 that woman call each other "girls" Whaa
By Ditch Bum (765), Water Mill on Jan 20, 18 11:51 AM
Erin, a little off color, but guess it's the thought that counts. I'm one of the older members and guys and gals hold the door foe me, Thanks...
By knitter (1653), Southampton on Jan 16, 18 1:26 PM
I'm picking up what you're putting down Erin.... ; )
By Sturgis (563), Southampton on Jan 20, 18 12:03 PM
1 member liked this comment