After earning her business degree at San Diego State University, Lindsey Young wanted to become an entrepreneur or a corporate executive. So it made sense that she would pursue an MBA at the University of Phoenix.
Young discovered, though, that business excited her less than she had expected. She wanted more out of life than simply a paycheck. What to do? She turned to her father for advice.
Marc Martin, a former Fullerton and Santa Ana fire chief, minced few words.
“He gave me a not-so-subtle nudge into the fire department,” Young remembered with a laugh. “The one thing I knew is that my dad was absolutely passionate about what he did. That kind of rubbed off on me.”
Young hasn’t looked back.
In May, Anaheim Fire & Rescue appointed her to the assistant fire marshal position in charge of the Life Safety Section.
A decade earlier, the then-26-year-old Young began her fire service career in the city as a reserve. In her new position, Young’s responsibilities include assisting fire inspectors with technical inquiries, ensuring that new construction in Anaheim meets all building and fire codes, and helping to educate the public and businesses about fire safety.
“We are excited to have Lindsey back with the Anaheim Fire & Rescue family,” said Rusty Coffelt, Anaheim Fire & Rescue deputy chief and fire marshal. “Her strong leadership and technical expertise will ensure our Life Safety Section is ready to meet the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.”
Anaheim Fire & Rescue employs 275 fulltime employees, including 208 firefighters and 67 civilians. The department also has 11 part-time workers.
“It’s awesome to be back,” Young said. “I like helping people and being a part of the community and being able to say that I’m making it a better place.”
Young even makes house calls.
Recently, she and a colleague visited an Anaheim family through a new city home fire safety program. In Spanish, the pair discussed the quickest and safest way to exit the structure in the event of a fire; the dangers of leaving food on the stove unattended; and the importance of fire alarms. During the meeting, Young personally installed several alarms free of charge as part of the department’s Home Safety Visit Program.
Another day, she met with a building engineer seeking a permit for a restaurant hood system. A hood sucks up smoke during cooking but the protection system it utilizes can also automatically release suppression chemicals if a fire breaks out. Young’s goal: collaborate with the restaurant to ensure the hood system meets code to prevent a disaster.
When asked about a typical day, she smiled. “I don’t think I’ve had one. We run. We fly. We adapt. We move. Whatever the flavor of the day is, we do it, quickly and to the best of our ability.”
Young also must help decide when and where to deploy the seven Anaheim Fire & Rescue personnel reporting to her. Anaheim, California’s 10th largest city, poses unique challenges with a population of 350,000, a resort area that attracts upwards of 24 million visitors a year to such venues as the Anaheim Convention Center, Honda Center, Angel Stadium of Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort. There’s also a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area in the eastern area of the city.
“We allocate our resources in a way that addresses the highest priorities of the day,” she said, “and those priorities are constantly fluctuating and changing.”
Her commitment to protecting the safety of Anaheim’s firefighters never fluctuates or changes. If Young does her job well, she said, fires are less likely to burn out of control. That means fewer injuries, fatalities and structural damage.
While working as a fire prevention specialist in Brea, for instance, Young said a sprinkler system she had helped install activated as planned, largely containing a blaze. Her and her team’s good work left firefighters with little more than a “mop-up operation.”
“One of my goals is to make sure that a firefighter’s job is as safe as possible. They may have fewer stories to share,” Young said, “but I want to make sure they’re taken care of.”