Synthia Kearney

Synthia Kearney 

Battalion Chief at Gastonia Fire Department

I was born in Chicago Illinois but moved to North Carolina when I was 10 years old.  As a teenager I wanted to be a firefighter but my mother talked me out of it because I wanted to go to college.  I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill where I played varsity women’s soccer and was a part of the 1ST Women’s AIAW Championship team in 1981 and the first NCAA Championship team in 1982. 

After college I became a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service for 4 years before transferring to The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) as a Special Agent.  After my second daughter was born I became a stay at home mom for three years. When I financially had to go back to work I decided to do what I had always wanted to do and at 35 years old, I applied and passed the physical agility test and got hired as a Gastonia Firefighter. 

In 2006 I became the first female Captain in the history of the department and in 2012 I became the first female Battalion Chief in the history of the department.