Todd Lupton is like that decadent crème on a frothy, coffee drink. He just rises to the top.
He joined the fire service as a fresh-faced teen down in Warren County, and in just 14 years, the Manassas Park firefighter has risen through the ranks at amazing speed.
Earlier this year he made the jump from assistant fire chief to interim chief after the departure of former Chief John O’Neal.
The “interim” dropped off his title after city council decided in a work session they were happy with his work and they didn’t need to hire anybody else to run the department.
Though he seems to have an affinity for fire service leadership, the 32-year-old said he’s just not ready to be chief. It’s what motivated his decision to leave the department and take a battalion chief position with the City of Manassas Fire Department.
“I’m still going to have 18 years left before I can retire … it’s going to put me in a position where I can truly be happy,” Lupton said.
He join the fire service right out of high school and he is about mid-level in his career, but he still has a lot of growing to do, he said. He does want to be chief again one day, he added.
“ … In due time … I still have a lot of years to offer, to continue to learn the craft,” Lupton said.
“I’m in my early thirties and I’m very fortunate that I’ve progress so rapidly,” Lupton said. “I wasn’t ready for that life-style change. I have a young family and my only son is just 15 months old. I would like to spend more time with my family.”
There are governing body meetings and other nightly meetings that the fire chief must attend plus, his two-hour commute each day to and from the family’s home in Front Royal.
“Now I’m working five days a week. (In Manassas) I’ll be doing shift work—24 hours on and 48 hours off. It’s 9 to 11 days a month you work, ” Lupton said. “It provides a lot of time for personal enhancement.”
It’s not all about rest and relaxation—Lupton said he’s a hands-on type of guy.
He likes the idea of getting out and responding to emergencies with a team and isn’t really a desk-work type of person, he added.
“I’m an operation-focused chief officer; I really like to be involved.” Lupton said. “Manassas City is a combination system (volunteer and paid firefighters) … it will give me more depth. You are out responding to incidents as a commander (and) you also handle administrative responsibilities.”
He’s been fighting fires in Manassas Park for some 11 years, but the City of Manassas isn’t foreign territory for him, Lupton said. He knows many of the people he’ll be working with in November because of mutual aid calls and other encounters through the fire service community.
It’s very seldom that a fire agency elects to look outside the home agency for job candidates when filling a chief officer position such the battalion chief, which is why he jumped at the chance, Lupton said.
Still, he will miss the people he’s worked with for more than a decade. He’ll miss the people of Manassas Park, he said.
“The fire service is a brotherhood and sisterhood,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate that the personnel are very supportive. They are strong and good at what they do; it makes having the responsibility (of the chief’s position) easier.”
Current Manassas Park Fire Marshal Mark Joyner will take over as fire chief on Nov. 11.