EASTHAM –– Lisa Albino has worked in the Eastham Fire Dept. under seven chiefs. With 34 years of service, she is the town’s longest tenured active firefighter. And as of Jan. 14, she is the first woman to be named a deputy chief on Cape Cod.
“It’s hard to believe that this has actually happened,” Albino said.
Albino was promoted from captain, the rank she held since 2010, to fill the opening left by Dan Keane’s promotion to fire chief. Keane replaced Chief Kent Farrenkopf, who retired in September.
In an email to the Independent, Chief Keane praised Albino, saying that her “drive, loyalty, and hard work have gotten her to where she is today.” He also noted that she has held almost every job in the department. There were eight finalists for the deputy chief’s position, he said.
“Lisa stood head and shoulders above them all,” he said.
Albino grew up in North Eastham and graduated from Nauset Regional High School in 1982. “I didn’t have family in firefighting,” she said, “but I grew up in the era when Emergency! was on TV.” The series, which ran from 1972 to 1977, was a fictional medical drama about firefighter paramedics in Los Angeles.
“I saw that, and I thought, ‘I want to be a paramedic,’ ” Albino said.
Years later, in 2004, Randy Mantooth, who had starred as Johnny Gage in Emergency! and became an advocate for fire and emergency medical service workers, presented Albino with the Cape and Islands Paramedic of the Year award.
Albino began working for the Eastham department in 1986 as a call (part-time) firefighter. Two years later, when a full-time firefighter EMT position opened up, she applied and was offered the job. “I never looked back,” she said.
Albino received her paramedic certification in 1989 and remained a firefighter paramedic until her promotion to captain in 2010. She is also a registered nurse and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Anna Maria College.
In her first year as deputy chief, Albino will earn a salary of $125,000. That’s not a big jump from the $120,000 she was earning as captain. In 1988, her first year as a full-time firefighter, Albino earned $27,017, according to that year’s town report.
That 1988 department employed eight full-time firefighters who responded to calls working two per shift. The department has since grown to 20 workers, plus the chief, deputy chief, and an administrative secretary. Albino says that, despite the growth, the camaraderie of the department hasn’t changed. “We just happen to do a lot more calls,” she said.
Albino’s promotion comes with a significant change in responsibilities. Instead of working 24-hour shifts and suiting up for fire calls — that’s the part she calls “the best job in the world” —Albino will be working regular Monday-to-Friday hours. As a captain, Albino worked closely with a shift of four other firefighters. Now, she will be responsible for the more technical and administrative aspects of fire prevention.
Albino said she aspired to be a chief for years, but now that she has the title, “I don’t know what to expect, to be perfectly honest.”
She said it means a lot to her to land this job in Eastham: “I grew up here in town. I put my heart and soul into this place. And if I was going to be promoted, it was going to be in my own town.”
Every July, Albino spends a week volunteering at Camp Fully Involved, a firefighting retreat for young women in New Hampshire. “We give them a little taste of what it’s like to be in the fire service,” she said. “For those girls, to see that they can achieve a position of rank, it is a big deal.”
At the Jan. 14 promotion ceremony, Ryan Van Buskirk was elevated to captain. Van Buskirk has served the department for 16 years. Rachel Topal, Kurt Fisher, and Laytin Reis were all promoted to lieutenant.