“Little girls standing on the curb seeing one of these [fire] trucks go by,” she says, “It’s very rare that they see a face that looks like them.”Nguyen didn’t set out to be a firefighter. She was in grad school preparing for a career in teaching when she met a friend’s brother who worked as a firefighter.”That always intrigued me,” Nguyen says. “Giving back, working directly with people. But for me too, being a former athlete, the physical aspect was very appealing, having that directly incorporated in a career.” Like many firefighters, Nguyen has a background in high school and college athletics; as part of its diversity outreach, the LAFD is targeting female college athletes and former military personnel, and the department recently started a high school magnet program.On the day we’re scheduled to meet, Nguyen is on duty. She agreed to an interview with the caveat that we’d have to break if and when a call comes in; she works at the sixth-busiest house in the city. When I arrive at the house, she’s gone, and when a fire engine pulls into the station a little while later, I spot her in the window, the only woman in the truck, her hair tightly pulled back. Her captain tells me she’ll be right with me.