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Seekonk Appoints First Female Officer in Fire Dept.

Sandra Lowery is appointed lieutenant during a ceremony at the Board of Selectmen meeting.

It was a historic moment in Seekonk Wednesday night when the Board of Selectmen appointed firefighter Sandra Lowery to the position of lieutenant. Lowery, who has been a firefighter/paramedic in Seekonk for nearly 11 years, became the department's first female officer.

"This is a great moment for the fire department and Ms. Lowery, and I'm glad I'm part of it too," said Selectmen Gary Sagar, who is a retired Attleboro fire captain.

Lowery's appointment follows last month's departure of Lt. Peter Burke, who left Seekonk to become deputy fire chief in Barnstable. She has an extensive resume, including last year's selection as Bristol County Paramedic of the Year.

"We're very proud of her," said Fire Chief Alan Jack, who introduced Lowery at the ceremony attended by several of her department colleagues.

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Lowery comes from a family of police officers. Her grandfather, retired Scituate Police Chief William Lawton, pinned the lieutenant badge on her uniform during the ceremony.

Mike December 06, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Congratulations to Sandra. I have had occasion to have to call rescue in Seekonk for my then 10 year old son after a seizure at the Showcase, and she was very professional and did a great job. I'm sure she will be a terrific fire lieutenant. Having said that, someone needs to put their fact checking hat on. Judy Dufresne (later Mcneil) was hired by Chief David Bowden in the early eighties to the full time department. Unfortunately for the town of Seekonk, she left for a job with the East Providence Fire dept. in 1985, and had a successful career there for 27 years +-. retiring as, I believe, a Captain within the last few years.
Paul Mac Pherson December 06, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Also people may or may not remember there were several female call firefighters in the past.
Amy December 06, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Sandra, congratulations on your promotion.
Scott December 06, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Mike, Judy McNeil wasn't hired until around 1987 or 1988 and was in Seekonk for 2-3 years, before leaving for East Providence Fire, so as you said maybe you should check your facts. At best she was in East Providence for maybe 21 or 22 years. I know I went through the Mass firefighting Academy with her.
Mike December 06, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Ok Scott, I stand corrected. Funny, a friend did independent study at Seekonk fire, she was there when he did it, and he graduated in 1985. He is also on East Providence Fire and you are correct, she retired about a year ago after 20 or 21. I didn't realize she worked as long as she apparently did in Seekonk. And Paul, you are quite right, lots of great call firefighters in Seekonk's history were women....
Dave December 06, 2012 at 10:19 PM
As was mentioned Judy McNeil then Pam Dwyer, then Sandra. Sandra is the first female ranking officer in the fire department. And there were four or five female call firefighters over the years.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) December 06, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I did not intend for this to be so controversial. I see mixed messages above. Anybody with knowledge of this subject that has a real name can feel free to contact me at jonathan.friedman@patch.com. I will also do some research of my own.
deb of see-attleboro December 06, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I do not mean any disrespect, Jonathan. But it might be easier if you reveal your sources. This could simply be a misunderstanding.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) December 06, 2012 at 11:19 PM
My source was the selectmen talking in public at the meeting last night as well as last week.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) December 06, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I am always willing to be corrected and make corrections to articles when they are needed.
Scott December 07, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Jonathan, Judy McNeil was the first full time female firefighter. There was another full time female firefighter in the mid nineties. Lt. Lowery is the third full time female firefighter. There is also another full time female firefighter that has been on the dept for about 7 years. To best of my recollection there was 3 females on the call dept. I think the selectmans statement was that Lt. Lowery is the first female ranking officer in the fire department.
deb of see-attleboro December 07, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Sorry. I did not watch last nights meeting yet.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) December 07, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I exchanged emails with Selectman Gary Sagar about this subject and the article has been corrected. Thanks to those who pointed out the error and thanks to Gary Sagar for giving me the correct information. I apologize to Lt. Lowery and her family for the error. Congratulations on the promotion.

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