At the end of November, Lynne Kilpatrick served her last day with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (DPS) as Fire Marshal. In 2010, Kilpatrick started at the Sunnyvale DPS as a Hazardous Materials Coordinator, and in 2013, rose to the position of Civilian Fire Marshal. Before coming to the Sunnyvale DPS, Kilpatrick, a graduate of Oregon State University, worked for 21 years as the Hazardous Materials Coordinator for the Seattle Fire Department.
Kilpatrick explained what her job as a Fire Marshal entailed.
“The primary responsibility was to ensure new and existing buildings, as well as activities and operations performed in the City, were in compliance with national and local fire and life safety codes and standards,” Kilpatrick said. “At DPS, I oversaw three work groups. One- Fire Protection Engineering. This group is responsible for plan review and inspections to ensure fire and life safety in new construction.
“Two- Hazardous Materials. This group performs regular inspections and permitting of facilities that store and use hazardous materials,” Kilpatrick continued. “It’s because Sunnyvale had in 2010, and still has, a significant number of facilities conducting research and development with cutting edge technologies utilizing hazardous materials, that I was initially drawn to the Hazardous Materials Coordinator position. Three- Fire Prevention. This work group performs inspections and ensures compliance of existing buildings, including state-regulated facilities like schools and high rises.”
One of many things Kilpatrick was proud to have accomplished as Fire Marshal included her work with DPS to organize a civilian Fire Prevention Program.
“The previous program relied upon sworn Public Safety Officers for fire prevention-related activities.” Kilpatrick said. “Civilianization gave way to hiring and development of individuals who choose fire prevention as a career path and allowed trained emergency responders to apply their expertise where it is most needed.”
Employee recruitment was one of the biggest challenges Kilpatrick faced.
“The biggest challenge was finding qualified applicants to fill the positions we had available for most of the seven years I served as Fire Marshal.” Kilpatrick said. “Fire Prevention is not a typical career path. But nearly every city is in need of individuals who perform this critical, but often behind the scenes, function within Fire Departments. I only managed to meet the challenge by having an amazing, loyal and dedicated team of individuals who continuously adapted to ever-changing priorities and an ever-increasing workload.”
Though Kilpatrick is no longer with the Sunnyvale DPS, she is “not out of the game yet.” Kilpatrick has founded her own start up company in Washington, where she now lives.
“I’ve purchased and am updating for the cloud a software program to assist fire and building officials, as well as regulated facility owners, to identify the hazard classifications of chemicals and other hazardous materials,” Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick was born in Texas, moved around quite a bit during her youth and lived in Seattle for 24 years.
“Although Sunnyvale holds a special place in my heart and history, after retiring, I returned to the Pacific Northwest, which I consider home, and now live and work in a beautiful coastal town in Washington state,” she said.