Answering the Call Since 1926
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department is a progressive, multi-mission public safety agency with a rich tradition and history. We stand ready to serve the people of this world-renowned area with professionalism, dedication, and pride. From the pristine beaches of the South Coast to the bucolic farmlands and vineyards in the North County, we are always here to answer the call.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department serves and safeguards the community from the impacts of fires, medical emergencies, environmental emergencies, and natural disasters through leadership, planning, education, prevention, code enforcement, and all-hazard emergency response.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department will be a model public safety agency, widely recognized for our effectiveness, regional strength, and community attentiveness.
Commitment – Courage – Integrity – Innovation – Teamwork – Service
A Brief History of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department
The department began on April 5, 1926, as a service which the Board of Supervisors said, “…was of vital interest to all of the people of Santa Barbara County.”
With the establishment of the Santa Barbara County Forestry Department, the day of the professional firefighter began.
Battling primarily vegetation fires with small trailers towed to the scene behind a Model A and Model T, those firefighters braved flames on the same hillsides and grasslands that today’s firefighters climb when called to service.
Forester Frank E. Dunne joined forces with the Los Angeles County Forester and together created a wildland fire organization for safety and to train firefighters. This group also began what would be the predecessor of our widely recognized interagency Mutual-Aid agreement.
In 1956 the Santa Barbara County Forestry Department officially became the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Two years later, the tradition began where all fire apparatus were painted with the familiar white paint. The reasoning was simple: to provide a safer, more visible appearance, and to make the interior of the cab cooler, as at that time there were no air conditioning units.
In 1963, Victor L. Mohr became the first Fire Chief.
With the rapid rise in population of the Goleta Valley due to the aerospace industry (the Apollo Lunar Rovers were designed and built near Station 11) and with the growth of UC Santa Barbara, the call came for increased fire protection. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department answered.
Beginning in 1974, we were again at the forefront in the evolving world of the firefighter. With the launching of the paramedic program, advanced life support became possible in the field, saving countless lives ever since.
A Multi-Disciplinary Agency
With years of a burgeoning population and myriad of calls, today’s County Fire Department resembles little of that agency from the early 20th Century.
When the alarm sounds, firefighters may encounter any number of life-threatening calls, including vehicle, aircraft, or train accidents, hazardous materials, urban search and rescue, structure fires, water rescue, medical emergencies, technical rope rescue, the need for air-support, confined space rescue, fire line construction, and of course, vegetation fires.
The Department has progressed a long way since its inception. It is more diverse, better educated, and much more highly trained. For generations, its firefighters have risen to the challenges placed in their path, and its dedicated personnel remain proud to wear the uniform of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
The Department at a Glance
- 16 Fire Stations (16 Engines / 2 Truck Companies)
- 3 Battalions (South, Central, North)
- 5 Divisions (Operations, Support Services, Fire Prevention, EMS, & Training)
- ~245 full-time employees
- Over 15,000 incidents responded to annually
Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara County occupies 2,774 square miles of land, one third of which is the Los Padres National Forest. It is home to over 420,000 residents with millions of tourists visiting the area annually. With over 100 miles of sandy beaches, Cachuma Lake, and a rugged mountain range topping at 6,820 feet, there is something for everyone here.
The county is also home to the Nation’s newest National Park, U.S. Space Command’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Los Padres National Forest, dozens of award-
Responding to over 15,000 incidents a year, the men and women of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department continue a long tradition that began in 1926 of being there to answer the call.