Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief
Source: Santa Barbara City Fire Department
After an extensive national recruitment process, Eric Nickel has been appointed as Fire Chief. Selected from a pool of 36 applicants, Chief Nickel will oversee the Fire Department’s $28 million budget and 106 employees in eight fire stations, effective January 14, 2019.
Chief Nickel brings 31 years of service as a professional firefighter to the City of Santa Barbara. Since 2012, Eric served as the Fire Chief for the City of Palo Alto and Stanford University where he provided strategic leadership to a team of 105 professional firefighters, emergency medical experts and support staff. He was responsible for the delivery of community risk reduction and prevention, fire, rescue and emergency medical services. The City of Palo Alto Fire Department operated the only fire-based ambulance service in Santa Clara County. Under his leadership, the fire department transformed its service delivery model, renegotiated the Stanford Fire Contract, and became one of ten municipal fire departments in California to achieve international accreditation. Throughout his career, he has worked for six fire departments in Southern and Northern California, all with wildland urban interface risks.
Eric is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and is professionally credentialed as a Chief Fire Officer through the Commission on Professional Credentialing. He is one of 39 fire chiefs in California Fire Service history to be designated as a Certified Fire Chief through the State of California State Board of Fire Services. In 2016, he served as the President of the Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs Association when Super Bowl 50 was hosted in Santa Clara. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from California State University, Long Beach. He is the Past-President of the League of California Cities Fire Chiefs Department and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the League of California Cities.
Eric has focused his professional research on fire agency community engagement and public relations programs, using social media as a community link in disasters and creating predictive analytic technology solutions to forecast risk reduction opportunities and predict calls for service. Eric seeks to use innovative and data-driven solutions to make life safer and to create an all-risk emergency services department ready to meet future challenges and community needs.
According to City Administrator Paul Casey, “Mr. Nickel stood out as the top candidate in my mind due to his broad breadth of experience, leadership, and personal skill and abilities. I think he will be an outstanding leader for the Department going forward.”
Chief Nickel said, "I am honored to be selected as the City of Santa Barbara's next Fire Chief. I am eager to get started after the holidays. I look forward to leading the men and women of this great department as we meet the daily needs of our citizens and strategically plan for the uncertainties of the future. I am excited with the opportunities to learn from, engage and collaborate with this vibrant and diverse community.”
He has been married for 25 years to Marianna Vasquez Nickel and they have two children, Noah, a college senior, and, Isabella, a college freshman.