Santa Barbara City Appoints Fire Chief

Santa Barbara City Appoints Fire Chief title=
Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Chris Mailes
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Source: City of Santa Barbara

After an extensive national recruitment process, Chris Mailes has been appointed as Fire Chief.  Selected from 37 candidates, Mailes was serving as the Interim Fire Chief following the retirement of Eric Nickel in October. He will oversee the Fire Department’s $30 million budget and 106 employees in eight fire stations. 

Chief Mailes has worked with the City’s Fire Department for 28 years, where he has served in various leadership positions since 1993 when he was hired as a firefighter. In his most recent position as the Battalion Chief, he oversaw one of the three shifts that rotate duty coverage in the City.  Prior to that assignment, Chief Mailes was the Department’s Training Officer where he managed the training and compliance of the 90 firefighting personnel. Additionally, he oversaw the implementation of a 3-year, $460,000 automated fire station alerting system. He has extensive experience cooperating with regional and state fire agencies and commanding citywide emergencies. He has served in leadership roles during numerous fires, including the most recent Thomas Fire and Debris Flow. He received a Bachelor’s degree from UCSB. He was the recipient of the Rotary Club of Montecito Public Safety Award and the Santa Barbara Host Lions Club Firefighter of the Year.

According to City Administrator Paul Casey, “It was a well qualified group of finalists and I chose Chief Mailes due to his professionalism, team dedication, tenure with the department, and excellent performance during his acting chief assignment. He is well regarded within the department and by fire professionals in the region.”

Chief Chris Mailes said, “I am honored and humbled to be chosen to lead the City’s Fire Department. As a lifelong resident of the area and having been born and raised in the City, it is a special honor to care for my community. We have an amazing group of dedicated women and men. I am honored to continue to ensure that our residents and visitors are well cared for by your Fire Department.  I thank the City for having the confidence in me to lead this fine organization.”

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a-1617212221 Mar 31, 2021 10:37 AM
Santa Barbara City Appoints Fire Chief

Great pick. He's more than proven his administrative and leadership chops during his 28 years working for Santa Barbara. We have great talent locally. Nice to seem them promoted.

PitMix Mar 31, 2021 03:27 PM
Santa Barbara City Appoints Fire Chief

Needs to stay 2-3 years to make his current salary be used for calculating his pension, right? Then he can retire and get another high paying job and double dip like many of them. Winner of the public agency lottery.

I predict we will looking for a new chief in 2024. You heard it here first.

RHS Mar 31, 2021 06:23 PM
Santa Barbara City Appoints Fire Chief

Pitmix is probably correct. But the choice of an in house applicant is salutary. Next time, however, let's not hire a big money consultant to do this. Doesn't the city have a HR department with people who are supposed to do these things. If not, let the City Council and Mayor have a go at it.

salsa guy Apr 01, 2021 07:52 AM
Santa Barbara City Appoints Fire Chief

Excellent choice! We actually promoted from within . A good question about what does the HR department have to do with recruiting. Do we really need to conduct “ national” searches every time to replace key city positions? Look what we gotten with these searches, the chief-gone in a few years after she bumped her lifetime pension, the city administrator, the city attorney and who knows how many others. Wonder of wonders someone in the city actually made a rational, thoughtful decision. Now if we can dump the mayor and most of the city council we might have something going.

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