At age 32, Marcel Melanson of the Compton Fire Department in California is one of the youngest battalion chiefs in America, yet he conveys a mature vision: to improve public safety nationwide.
Melanson has used his platform on the reality show First In to engage corporate partners, including Cisco, which is building a wireless network in Compton linked to a citywide camera system.
“Imagine an earthquake,” Melanson says. “We could get a virtual look at the entire city and understand where damage is worst before putting boots on the ground.”
The battalion chief also made sure every firefighter has a two-way radio.
“It was insulting,” he says. “Most fifth-graders have cells. But you have a firefighter on the ground and we can’t communicate.”
The lesson: If Melanson can find a way to obtain gear for his small, cash-strapped department, anyone can.
— Adapted from “Most Creative People 2010: Marcel Melanson,” Stephanie Schomer, Fast Company.