Climbing the Ladder
Lynn Truitt becomes the first woman to lead firefighters in New Castle County. She’s already used to the hot seat.
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All seven bay doors are shut along the broad, brown-brick front of the Cranston Heights firehouse at Prices Corner. Steady afternoon traffic and a cold January wind stream by on Kirkwood Highway. Inside, a few firefighters sip coffee in the radio room. The longer the doors stay shut, the better.
One of the firefighters is Lynn Truitt, a full member of Cranston Heights Fire Company since 1994 and a past president. She has a ready smile and an easy way about her. Last December, Truitt became president of the New Castle County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association, the first woman to hold such a post in the state. So the native Delawarean is not only a practitioner in a man’s world, but a leader as well.
“She deserves it,” says Warren Jones, president of the Delaware Volunteer Firemen’s Association. “Lynn is a great lady.”
Truitt, who also serves as co-chair of Cranston’s board and a DVFA director, has taken the helm at NCCVFA during a time of fiscal cuts and operational change—the county’s call for 8 percent budget reductions included fire companies, while fire chiefs move toward standardized practices across the state. It will be a period of adjustment.
“I enjoy a challenge,” says Truitt. “I work well with anybody.”
That trait, plus her skills as an administrator—Truitt is chief operating officer of First State Surgery Center in Newark—impressed area fire-service leaders several years ago.
“She’s big on teamwork,” says Jim Barlow, 10-year president of Wilmington Manor Fire Company and one of the first people to spot Truitt’s potential. Early this decade, he and Christiana Fire Company’s Tom D’Alessandro, both soon to become NCCVFA officers at the time, recommended Truitt run for second vice president, the traditional first step toward the presidency.
“Lynn was progressive, dedicated to the fire service, and had a passion for volunteerism,” says Barlow, association president in 2004 and now one of three official advisors to Truitt. “We saw the things she accomplished at Cranston Heights, recruiting and retaining members. And there’s no limelight with her. She’s the type who doesn’t take credit.”
Overbooked with her day job and related activities, Truitt passed on the first couple of opportunities to run for NCCVFA office, but decided to go for it in December 2006. A veteran firefighter offered to manage her campaign, but his services were unnecessary. She ran unopposed for second vice president, a triumph she repeated for first vice president and for president.
“That says a lot,” Barlow points out. “It’s basically an all-male organization.”
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