The Office of the Santa Barbara County Fire Marshal (SBCFM) is the program that protects life and property through the development and application of fire prevention, engineering, training and education, and enforcement. As part of this mission, SBCFM establishes a fire-safe environment for the people of Santa Barbara County and the local municipalities within the jurisdiction’s authority to build structures, maintain fire and life safety systems properly, operate businesses safely, and to provide for safer overall communities. The Office of the County Fire Marshal web site serves as a valuable resource and a one-stop shop for all things related to these goals. Please make sure to check back on this website regularly as content is updated periodically.
The Fire Prevention division is made up of both sworn safety members and civilian staff. This starts with the Fire Marshal/Division Chief, Deputy Fire Marshal/Battalion Chief, 5 Fire Captains, 4 Fire Engineer/Inspectors, 4 Civilian Fire Inspectors, 3 Administrative Office Professional and several Extra Help positions.
The Planning and Engineering Section interacts with developers, architects, and engineers to meet the fire protection requirements for buildings and developments within the jurisdiction of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. This is done by reviewing all architectural blue prints, development plans, and proposals to ensure that all projects meet state and local fire and life safety requirements.
This Section provides review for residential and commercial structures, fire protection water systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, cell sites, commercial solar arrays, commercial hood systems, addressing, defensible space, tract and parcel maps, permits for conditional use, land use, site development, and other items related to the development process.
The duties of the Planning & Engineering Section consist of representing the Santa Barbara County Fire Department at the County Special Development Review Committee, County Special Problems Review Committee, County Planning Commission, City of Solvang and City of Buellton Administrative Staff meetings, and the City of Goleta Development Review Committee, and the performance the field inspections as needed. It is our goal to provide prompt, courteous, consistent and professional services to our customers.
The Inspection Services Section is a subset of the Fire Prevention Division and is responsible for coordinating and supporting the various fire and life safety inspection programs conducted by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. The purpose of those inspection programs is to insure that local businesses and agencies follow the requirements of local fire ordinances and provisions of the California Fire Code (CFC).
Wildfire prevention and mitigation is a critical component of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department mission. Wildfire is a natural process that occurs in virtually all vegetation types on a recurring basis. Much of the native vegetation in Santa Barbara County is fire adapted and is dependent on fire for regeneration. While the benefits of fire on the ecology is well researched, uncontrolled fire can have severe adverse impacts to society. The Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Section employs multiple programs to prevent and mitigate the adverse impacts of wildfire.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Investigation Unit is staffed with a Fire Investigation Supervisor and two Investigators. Fire Investigators are peace officers per California Penal Code Section 830.37 and are responsible for conducting fire and arson investigations; enforcement of state forest and fire laws; and enforcement of laws relating to fire prevention. Each Investigator is a member of the Santa Barbara County Arson Task Force, the International Association of Arson Investigators, and the California Conference of Arson Investigators.
The Fire Investigation Unit also conducts inspections of cannabis facilities and issues permits for pyrotechnic and special effect displays (Fireworks); fire performances; filming; explosives: bonfires; model rocketry; welding, cutting, grinding, and other hot-work operations. Email [email protected] for additional information regarding these inspections and/or permits.
Cal Fire Ranger Unit
Cal Fire is a department of the California Natural Resources Agency, a state cabinet-level department that is comprised, in part, of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Department of Water Resources. The department is responsible for the fire protection and stewardship of over 31 million acres of California’s privately owned wildlands. In addition, the department provides varied emergency services in 36 of the state’s 58 counties via contracts with local governments.
The primary job of Cal Fire is to provide fire protection for the State Responsibility Area or SRA. SRA lands are defined by the Public Resource Code of the state first, as, “covered wholly or in part by forests or by trees producing or capable of producing forest products. Second, they are “those covered wholly or in part by timber, brush, undergrowth, or grass, whether of commercial value or not, which protect the soil from excessive erosion, retard runoff of water or accelerate water percolation, if such lands are sources of water which is available for irrigation or for domestic or industrial use.” Finally, they are “lands in areas which are principally used or useful for range or forage purposes, which are contiguous to” the lands described above. The State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection determines what lands are included in the SRA and their decisions have the force of law. (California Public Resource Code Section 4126)
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department is a contract county of Cal Fire for the State Responsibility lands area and has all the authority to provide fire protection within the SRA designated zones.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department obtains the authority to implement and enforce codes and standards and shall be controlling in all areas within the Santa Barbara County Fire Protection District and all other unincorporated areas of the county, except the areas within the Carpinteria/Summerland Fire Protection District, Montecito Fire Protection District, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Bureau of Indian Affairs Lands, unless otherwise specified.
California Fire Code
The board of supervisors of the County of Santa Barbara for the purpose of prescribing regulations governing conditions hazardous to life and property from fire, hazardous materials or explosion, adopts the 2022 edition of the California Fire Code (hereinafter 2022 California Fire Code or “CFC”) and the following provisions of the 2021 edition of the International Fire Code, including Chapters 1—80 and Appendix Chapters 4, A, B, BB, C, CC, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N and O as published by the International Code Council, that are added and/or amended by section 15-3 of the Santa Barbara County
Code chapter 15. A copy of the 2022 edition of the California Fire Code is on file with the clerk of the board of supervisors and is incorporated by reference.
Amendments to the 2022 California Fire Code and portions of the 2021 International Fire Code are set forth in section 15-3. An amendment, including an addition or a deletion, only amends the referenced section and does not, by omission of reference, delete any other section.
California Code Of Regulations
The California Code of regulations Title 14 – Natural resources, Division 1.5 – Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Chapter 7 – Fire Protection, Subchapter 2 – SRA Fire Safe Regulations require:
(a) the local jurisdictions shall provide the Director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) or their designee with notice of applications for building permits, tentative parcel maps, tentative maps, and installation or use permits for construction or development within the SRA.
(b) the Director or their designee may review and make fire protection recommendations on applicable construction or development permits or maps provided by the local jurisdiction.
(c) the local jurisdiction shall ensure that the applicable sections of this subchapter become a condition of approval of any applicable construction or development permit or map.
Note: Authority cited: Section 4290, Public Resources Code. Reference: Sections 4290 and 4291, Public Resources Code.
The Santa Barbara County Fire department develops additional requirements above the industry standards as determined through research and discussions with engineers, consultants and other related professionals. The standards are vetted through professionals working within that specific industry and their feedback helps shape the completed document. These standards are adopted by county ordinance and referenced within Chapter 15 of the Santa Barbara County Code.