Mitch Hubert, global manager of foam technology, Tyco Fire & Security, Marinette, Wis.
By Nadira A. Hira

(FORTUNE Magazine) – WHEN I WAS A KID PLAYING WITH MY CHEMISTRY set in the basement--nearly blowing up the house half the time--I never thought there might be a career in it. But I've spent 27 years here, creating fire-suppression foams and new methods of applying them to different fire hazards. Every day I go to work at the fire-test facility just minutes from where I grew up, and we set, study, and fight fires. We test small blazes in an indoor lab, and we can even set a raging 15,000-square-footer at one of our outdoor testing areas. I always say this industry is 100 years of tradition unencumbered by technological advances. It's a conservative business by nature, and if something's working, it can be a long time before folks change it. I've worked on everything from titanium fires in jet engines to California forest infernos to tires aflame in a Chicago warehouse. I've seen it all. One time I almost burned down a million-dollar building trying to devise a plan for tackling paint-thinner fires. But every day I get to live out a pyromaniac's dream: playing with fire and getting paid for it. -- Nadira A. Hira