State scores second, third female fire chiefs


Published: Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 30, 2005 at 11:14 p.m.
SANFORD - Two women are taking over as chiefs of fire departments in Florida, only the second and third to head professional departments in the state.
At the stroke of midnight Friday, Leeanna Raw, 41, became chief in Seminole County - the high point so far in a career that stretches back to high school volunteering with the Lake Mary department. Vicki Murphy came before her, leading Seminole's fire-rescue department in Pinellas County from 1996 to 2000.
"We do a lot of good things. There's not going to be a lot of change," she said.
And on Monday, Cynthia Dick will take over as the new chief of the Tallahassee Fire Department.
Dick started as a firefighter and emergency medical technician at the Tallahassee department in 1987 and made battalion captain in 1997. As chief, she'll oversee a department of 249 firefighters and 16 civilian employees.
Raw started in 1984, becoming Longwood's third paid firefighter. But it wasn't an easy road.
She remembers a co-worker asking her to ignore him if his wife visited the station, and getting lacy underwear as a Christmas present.
Still, Raw treats it with a sense of whimsy. She laughs as hard about it now as she did then.
"Even today, there are people - both firefighters and the public - who don't accept it," Raw said.
"You're not going to change that."

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