Joy Equipment crew

Rick thanks the Joy Equipment team for making the business a success. (In no particular order: Luis Gonazlez, Christy Joy, Rick Joy, Van Joy, Spencer Joy, Lily Lizalde, Ben O’Hara, Ismael Ponce, Josh Reyes, Alex Robles, Paco Robles, Connie Zemke, Rob Allison, Phil King, Kyle Jensen and Zack Moore.)

Wildfires we can’t control, but house fires we can do our best to prevent. Although California’s wildfire season generally runs from May until October, home fires are at their highest in the fall and winter months, December and January being the peak. Which brings us to the most unusual business we’ve featured in this column and, in terms of safety, possibly the most important.

Rick Joy is the owner of Joy Equipment Protection, Inc., a licensed fire protection company he opened in 1995, 17 years after moving to Carpinteria. His fire protection career started when he came to our coastal town in 1978, after taking a job with Santa Barbara Fire Equipment. Since then, his connection with Carpinteria has grown due to values he holds dear to his business: honest and kind professional service with an attitude people will remember. Or, as Rick says, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Suppose you’re wondering what a licensed fire protection company does (as I wondered too). In that case, Joy Equipment’s list of services includes installing residential and commercial fire sprinkler systems and kitchen hood systems, and servicing portable fire extinguishers. Sure, you may have smoke detectors in your home and a dusty fire extinguisher in your house somewhere, but do you know where they are and how to use them? If not, Joy also offers hands-on training for working your fire safety equipment. Sounds like a good deal to me.

When I asked Rick about the best business advice he’s received, he showed me something called “The Rules of the Road,” a list of advice his “very successful Uncle Jerry” shared with him. Rick takes these rules seriously. So much so, that when I ask about the key to his success, he directs me to rule number 16: “A true leader is accessible—no job too big, no job too small.” What about his trade secret? Number 17: “Communication is our business. You can reach any of your associates anytime, anywhere, any place.” Then there’s number eight, which is the advice he would give his younger self just starting in business: “Take options, never give them.” And what makes his business operate differently than others? Number 15: “Supreme self-confidence, never arrogance.”

Another way his business is unique is the family connection, the “special” dynamic of working with his son Van. “Day-to-day business is generally pretty busy, and Van plays a huge role dealing with it all,” said Rick. “Van is very hands-on with whatever needs to be done.” He also noted that Van is the epitome of rule number four: “Hire people smarter and better than you.” “Van is one of those,” admitted Joy. “I’m proud of what he can accomplish at work and with his wife Mallory and young son Griffin. Fortunate is only one way to say it.” Joy also noted that his younger son, Spencer, who was an officer of Joy Equipment for several years “is very knowledgeable in the fire protection industry, hands on, and excellent at everything he does.” These days, Spencer works for Beacon West Energy in Carpinteria, “for a change of pace and to learn another type of operation.”

The advice he lives by seems to work for a guy who started as a technician with one truck and has now grown into a team of over 15 people (a few who have been with the company for over three decades).

“Everything changes, and the same with fire protection improvements and regulations,” Joy said. “We do our best to stay on top of the changes, but most important is that we continue to provide the best and honest service to our existing clients which leads to additional work for us all. Our reputation is A+ and we plan to keep it this way.” 

Joy Equipment is located at 5690 Casitas Pass Road. Learn more at



Megan Waldrep is a columnist and freelance writer, currently living on a 34-foot sailboat. To learn more about Megan, visit

CVN Contributor

Megan Waldrep is a writer whose work has appeared in both national and regional publications, including Coastal View News, DEEP and Carpinteria Magazine. She also writes a lifestyle blog for partners of commercial fishermen at

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