Jennifer Bower of Huntington Beach, CA is this month’s FAB woman of the month! We are so excited to introduce her to all of our FAB readers! This hardworking woman is not only a full time mom, caring wife, and fun girlfriend, she is also the Deputy Fire Marshal of the Orange County Fire Authority. In the midst of all her responsibilities, she was able to fit us into her schedule to share with us not only how she got to where she is today but also what it takes to get there. Her amazing work ethic and drive to always do more has propelled her through the ranks to be in the position where she is today, making her in our eyes truly FABULOUS!
Who do you admire most and why?
From a career standpoint, I would have to say my great aunt who my father admired as well. She was a gay nurse during the war who in her spare time volunteered for planned parenthood. She didn’t let a thing like being gay, which at that time was a dangerous thing to be, stop her from doing what she felt was right and lending a hand where she could. She had her mind set on getting the job done regardless of the obstacles.
What is your official job title and what are some of your responsibilities?
I am the Deputy Fire Marshal in the Orange County Fire Authority. On my end, I control all of the permitting for special events in parks [such as fairs], annual inspections, and complaints. I have 35 people reporting to me under my department.
Throughout your career, what steps did you take that ultimately lead you to the position you are in now?
I always had drive. I was never satisfied with where I sat, and when I looked at other people [in their careers] I always thought “I could do that.” So whether it was in my career or stuff that I did, I always wanted to try and do things, not necessarily to be an expert, but to try something new and not get bored. So the advantage of the position I am in is it’s always a different challenge, it is not the same thing, it’s not mundane.
Why do you think diversity is important to showcase within a male dominated industry?
Well, it’s not a matter of women and men are the same, That’s a matter of capabilities and recognizing people’s capabilities, and putting them in the best place for their skill set regardless of whether their male or female. From a gender standpoint, to me it doesn’t matter. From an ethnic background, or from an ethnic standpoint, the more the merrier. The more diverse that you are, the more differences of opinions, the more perspectives you have, the better you can be as a team. Everybody brings their own expertise.
What advice do you give anyone looking to join the fire department?
Don’t be shy. Come and talk, come and ride along. Come and see the different areas. What people don’t realize about fire service specifically, is that it’s a city in and of itself. We have a finance division, we have a fleet services division, we have a training division, we have a bunch of different divisions. So you can bring whatever expertise you thought you were gonna go into, like if you thought you were gonna be a CPA in a firm, you can come and be a CPA for the fire service instead.
What does it mean to you to live a FABULOUS life?
To live a fabulous life to me means living to your fullest potential. What I mean by that is not being satisfied with your own bare minimum. It’s taking whatever skill set you have and using your own foresight to plan out a bigger goal for yourself, and then going out and accomplishing those goals. You do what you do because you love what you do, and because you know your doing the best that you can do. That is a life lived fabulously.