Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

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Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief
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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.

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NotReallyDave Nov 22, 2018 08:40 AM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

Yet another public servant brought in from outside the area to service us, in more ways than one. How many retired chiefs do we have to pay for now? It must be about $150K for each one, and each year. Anyone got the numbers?

EastBeach Nov 23, 2018 01:01 PM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

Trying to understand ... overtime pay was 25% to 75% of annual base pay for that sample of firefighters (meaning they earned 1.25 to 1.75 times base pay). That would be equivalent to me working 50 to 70 hours per week, every week, for the entire year. Do firefighters really put in that many hours? It seems unlikely.

Factotum Nov 23, 2018 04:15 PM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

Some of the time they spend on the job is sleeping in the station, working out, shopping and cooking meals together when on their overnight duty.

RHS Nov 22, 2018 09:50 AM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

Won't the public and politicians ever stop this carousel of greed? Every fire chief retires from one job and is hired by another agency! If they wanted to keep working they could have stayed where they were but they get huge retirement and income benefits by joining another dept. That dept cooperates because their own guy (yes male) will get the same rub my back deal from somewhere else. Why does no one ask that the incumbent assistant is never promoted? Is that person incompetent to do the work they were being paid for before the chief left? And hiding this by releasing the information over the Thanksgiving long weekend is even more cynical. Of course our elected officials will probably not intervene as they are all heavily supported by the over indulged firefighters associations.

Roger Nov 22, 2018 12:53 PM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

I think those who judge our or any First responders need to put up or shut up I think if people experienced what they go through on the job they would shut up...

Potif Nov 23, 2018 10:19 AM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

Besides, (and, I could be missing it with my 'older' brain), but where does it say he 'retired', rather than looking for a different job, and/or a new place to live? I know of a firefighter who lives locally, and is applying for jobs in local communities as he would like to spend more time closer to home, as opposed to only working wildfires all over the country all of the time.

Roger Nov 23, 2018 10:31 AM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

I'm glad you like my fascist thoughts but what I'm really referring to is what these people go through and see it's not easy to see someone in one piece one second and mutilated the next or show up on a call where someone you know has met their end. There is no amount of training that can prepare you for that it does not make someone any tougher or better than anyone else just because they went though that sort of thing...These guys go way beyond the call of duty saving lives and properties I really don't understand how these people who jeopardize their lives for others lives and properties can be called greedy. They are far from that..People bitch and moan about responders till they need them and then they shut up for awhile...Good for these guys they work their asses off for people that don't appreciate them retire and get more money they deserve it...If my 2 Cents on this topic make me a fascist that is fine by me Thank You for the Compliment...

mkaney Nov 23, 2018 10:42 AM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

Roger the problem is your narrative, at least as far are jeopardizing their lives for others, is not consistent with the statistics on the hazards experienced by the public safety sector. For example, the occupational fatality rate for police is 14 (per 100k), for firefighters it's 2. Compare that to other professions like groundskeepers (30), roofers (56), and even higher: electrical lineman, fishermen, and loggers.

But here's the real issue: Do you actually know how much money these folks are pulling down? Please see my comment below in response to the person asking for the numbers, because they will blow you away. This is not sustainable.

tagdes Nov 23, 2018 12:02 PM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief doesn't say he retired but....3 options; he was fired, no money, he quit, only the money he put in or he retired, twice the money he put in. So if he was smart enough to pass the written test I'm guessing option 3.

Potif Nov 24, 2018 01:44 AM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

TAGDES - He may have just wanted to be in a different area. Or, some communities do, and have downsized their fire departments. Without numbering the possibilities your comment is a bit confusing. He may not get 'retirement' pay for 'moving on' (quitting?) to another assignment, and I'm not sure about the only the money he put in - or twice the money statements, and what possibility that they go with.

tagdes Nov 24, 2018 09:56 AM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

OK...No 1, he gets fired -he gets nothing...obviously not likely.
No 2, he quits- he gets only what he has paid into his retirement over the years and not the dept. matching funds...not a smart move at all and highly unlikely.
No 3, he retires -gets his money back along with his agencies matching funds or double the money. Highly likely and done all the time. I had at least 3 coworkers doing the same when I worked at the County.

macpuzl Nov 23, 2018 04:04 PM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

"Transparent California" is neither transparent nor Californian, but is just one of the many names used by the tax-exempt "free-market think tank" Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). NPRI refuses to provide its own funding sources, stating, “NPRI respects the privacy of our donors, which includes the amount of a donor’s gift”.

NPRI's primary funding source, as determined by The Conservative Transparency Project, is Donors Capital Fund, a dark-money source of funding for conservative groups. Its donors also include The Cato Institute, co-founded by the Koch brothers, and organizations affiliated with the climate change denial movement.

NPRI spends 75% of its revenue on six-figure salaries and benefits. Its goal is to undermine support for employee unions nationwide, thereby decreasing salaries and increasing corporate profits.

Factotum Nov 23, 2018 04:09 PM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

Transparent California is an easy to navigate public resource letting you know exactly how much you as taxpayers are spending on each and every government employee in this state - using data provided by each institution, which is also available from the state Treasurers office. Transparent California simply makes this public data easy to find by name or job title. Why would anyone not want you to know this critical information.

Factotum Nov 23, 2018 04:11 PM
Eric Nickel Named New Santa Barbara Fire Chief

Liberals and the government employee unions don't want you to know how much each of their employees costs taxpayers. Conservatives do. One more in which politics tend to divide this country.

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