David Neels Appointed as New Montecito Fire Chief

By the Montecito Fire Protection District

The Montecito Fire Protection District Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of David Neels as Fire Chief following Chief Kevin Taylor’s retirement on March 31, 2023. Chief Neels’ first day as Chief will be April 1, 2023. He will lead a team of about 50 full-time fire department employees serving the Montecito community.

“In addition to having strong command of the technical, operational and administrative aspects of the role of fire chief, David has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to advancing personal and professional development of fire department personnel and enhancing outreach to our community,” said Board President Peter van Duinwyk. “David’s knowledge, experience and continued dedication to public service made him a clear and excellent choice to serve as Montecito’s next Fire Chief.”

Neels began his firefighting career in 1989 in San Luis Obispo County while earning his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In 1998, he joined Santa Barbara County Fire Department as a firefighter paramedic. During his 21 years with Santa Barbara County Fire Department, he progressed through the ranks to Engineer, Captain and Battalion Chief. In November 2019, the Montecito Fire Department hired Neels as a Battalion Chief. He was promoted to Division Chief of Operations in January 2021. Neels has worked with state Incident Management Teams for over 15 years, responding to major emergencies across the Western United States. In addition to his role as Montecito Fire Chief, he currently serves as an Incident Commander for the Santa Barbara County Type 3 Incident Management Team.

“Chief Neels is already highly respected in the Montecito community, as well as the greater Santa Barbara County area for his leadership roles. We congratulate him and look forward to working with him as Fire Chief,” said President van Duinwyk.

Neels grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley. He lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and three children.

Neels will succeed Chief Taylor who has dedicated more than eight years of service to the Montecito community. After 35 years in the fire service, Chief Taylor will officially retire March 31, 2023. 

“The Board is grateful to Chief Taylor for his exceptional leadership and commitment to serving the Montecito community,” said President van Duinwyk. “We congratulate him on his long and distinguished career and thank him for his role in preparing Chief Neels for this new chapter.” 


Written by MontecitoFire

Press releases written by the Montecito Fire Protection District. Learn more at montecitofire.com

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