Santa Barbara County Fire Department

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Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Operational area
Country United States
State California
County Santa Barbara
Agency overview[1]
Established1926 (1926)
Annual calls13,989 (2012)
Employees239 (2015)
Annual budget$56,037,297 (2015)
Fire chiefEric Peterson
EMS levelALS & BLS
Facilities and equipment
Engines16 - Type 1 frontline
5 - Type 1 reserve
Quints1 (reserve truck)
Ambulances3 - frontline
2 - reserve
Wildland14 - Type 3
Light and air1
Official website
IAFF website

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department (SBCFD) provides fire protection and emergency response services for the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County, California, and for multiple cities within the county. Together, these areas compose the Santa Barbara County Fire Protection District.[2]

In addition to the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County, the department also services the communities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Isla Vista/ UCSB campus, Santa Ynez, Santa Maria, Los Alamos, Casmalia, Lompoc, Solvang, New Cuyama, and Buellton. In addition they cover parts of the Los Padres National Forest, The majority of the Santa Barbara Coastline, substantial open space reserves, and many private ranch communities. The Santa Barbara County fire Department is a contract county with the California State Department of Forestry so they lend a hand in the firefighting efforts throughout the state.

The hills above Santa Barbara that comprise the Santa Ynez Mountains are a unique challenge on the California coast as they cause an effect known as the sundowner winds, which are very similar to the Santa Ana winds seen in nearby Santa Ana, California.


The SBCFD was initially founded on April 5, 1926.[2] In 1974, Santa Barbara launched the paramedic program which placed trained paramedics at station 11 to work alongside the firefighters.[3]


Engine 18, a Type 1, sits in a parking lot in Buellton.
Engine 331, a Type 3, sits in a parking lot in Buellton.

Type 1 Engine[edit]

Each of the 16 stations service by SBC FD are equipped with at least one Type 1 engine. The engines have the ability to pump 1,500 GPM and carry 500 gallons of water as well as 25 gallons of foam. For moving the water the engines carry over 2000 feet of hose in various diameters and over 100 feet of ladders. Each engine also has a set of the "Jaws of Life" as well as various other power tools, rescue gear and hand tools for both urban and brush fires.[4]

Type 3 Engine[edit]

The Type 3 Engines are smaller than the Type 1’s and are primarily used for vegetation fires as well as any type of emergency in the back country where the Type 1's cannot respond. The Type 3 has 4 x 4 capability and can thus climb hills and make it through rough terrain. One of the features that makes the Type 3 ideal for vegetation fires is that it can pump water while driving, whereas the Type 1 engine must be put into park to flow water. This allows the Type 3 to make "running attacks" on vegetation fires, a tactic that can help minimize the rate of spread by having a firefighter walk the edge of a fire with a hose line and the Type 3 trailing close behind. Each of the engines feature a 500-gallon water tank and a pump capable of producing 500 gpm @ 150 psi. It also carries a 20-gallon tank for the Class A foam injection.[5]

The Type 3 Engines will often be sent elsewhere in the county as part of a Strike Team to assist with major incidents or emergencies. In 2013 multiple engines were sent north to assist with the Rim Fire which became the largest fire in California history.[6][7]


Truck 11 during a training drill
The nozzle on the ladder of Truck 11

As of 2014, Santa Barbara County has 3 aerial ladder trucks 1 front line located at Station 11 as well as an auxiliary ladder truck. The second truck is located at Station 30 in Solvang. The truck weighs 74,000 pounds (34,000 kg) and features a 100-foot (30 m) ladder and a pump that produces 1,250 GPM. The pump is connected to a nozzle at the top of the ladder allow water to be sprayed onto a fire from above. Besides being set up for fire fighting, the truck is also configured for technical, trench and confined space rescue. Along with the standard ladders and hoses, the truck also carries cutting torches, chainsaws, ropes, air bags and various other tools. The truck automatically responds to all technical rescues, vehicle accidents and structure fires in Battalion 1.[8]


The Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit (ASU) is made up of two Bell UH-1H "Huey"s.[9] The helicopters are jointly operated by the Fire Department and the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office. Located at the Santa Ynez Airport adjacent to the Station 32, the ASU will often travel with a Rescue Paramedics from Station 32 when a medic is necessary. The helos are fitted for both hoisting of personnel for a rescue and for dropping of water during a fire. The underside can also be fitted with water dropping tanks that carry 320 gallons of water and have the ability to pump water from a reservoir or other water source or they can be filled on the ground with fire hose.[10]


To keep the squadron of helicopters that make up the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit (ASU) airborne during a vegetation fire or any extended incident requires the use of a helitender. This specialized apparatus is unit is based at the Santa Ynez Airport, where both helicopters are kept, adjacent to Station 32. As mentioned above, these helicopters can hold up to 190 gallons of fuel. The mobile helitender holds 1,200 gallons of Jet A fuel and is able to be driven to the incident. In this manner it can be used to help maximize the flying time over the scene. It also holds various equipment and tools for servicing the helos on scene.[11]

Water Tenders[edit]

Santa Barbara County uses two different types of water tenders, two tactical and two supply units. The tactical units feature 4x4 capabilities and carry 1,500 gallons of water. They are specifically designed to carry water inside of a vegetation fire incident. These tenders are located at Station 22 in Orcutt and Station 32 in Santa Ynez. The supply units can carry 3,200 gallons of water to easily accessible areas. These are located at Station 18 in Gaviota and Station 41 in Cuyama.[12]

Rescue Ambulance[edit]

The SBCFD has four Rescue Ambulances (RA) deployed around the county. Santa Barbara County was at the forefront of the firefighter/paramedic introduction to the industry.[13] Although the primary Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider for the county is the private ambulance company American Medical Response (AMR), there are areas in which the county provides both dedicated ALS coverage and patient transport to hospital facility. The vehicles are based on the Ford modular-style ambulance outfitted with advanced life support capabilities. There are a total of five RAs throughout the county, two are located at Station 17 servicing UC Santa Barbara, two are at Station 41 in New Cuyama and one is at Station 51 in Vandenberg Village. In addition to medical emergencies, the RA will also respond with an initial assignment to any structure fire or multi-engine calls.[13]

Stations and apparatus[edit]

Battalion 1[edit]

Battalion one, or South Battalion, consists of stations 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18. Adjacent to station 11 is the office and quarters for the Battalion Chief serving Battalion 1. The designations for the South BC are 510 (A-shift), 512 (B-shift) and 514 (C-shift).[14]

City Engine Truck EMS Wildland Other
11 Goleta Engine 11 Truck 11

Auxiliary Truck 11

USAR 11, Water Rescue 11, Battalion 1, Recon 11 [14]
12 Goleta Engine 12
Engine 212
Engine 312 [15]
13 Santa Barbara Engine 13
Engine 213
Engine 313 Utility 13 [16]
14 Goleta Engine 14 Engine 314 [17]
15 Santa Barbara Engine 15 Engine 315 Utility 15 [18]
17 UCSB Engine 17
Engine 217
Rescue 17
Rescue 217
Utility 17, Water Rescue 17 [19]
18 Gaviota Engine 18 Engine 318 Water Tender 18, Utility 18, Light & Air 18 [20]

Battalion 2[edit]

Battalion two, or North Battalion, consists of stations 21, 22, 23, 24, 30, 31, 32, 41 and 51. Adjacent to Station 24 is the office and quarters for the Battalion Chief serving Battalion 2. The designations for the North BC are 511 (A-shift), 513 (B-shift) and 515 (C-shift).[21]

City Engine EMS Wildland Other
21 Orcutt Engine 21 Engine 321 [22]
22 Santa Maria Engine 22 Engine 322 Utility 22, Water Tender 22 [23]
23 Sisquoc Engine 23 Engine 323 Utility 23 [24]
24 Los Alamos Engine 24
Engine 224
Engine 324 Utility 24, Battalion 2, Dozer 1, Dozer 2 [21]
30 Solvang Engine 30
Engine 230

Truck 30

Engine 330 Utility 30 [25]
31 Buellton Engine 31 Engine 331 Utility 31, HazMat [26]
32 Santa Ynez Engine 32 Engine 332 Utility 32, Water Tender 32 [27]
41 New Cuyama Engine 41 Rescue 41
Rescue 241
Engine 341 Utility 41, Water Tender 41 [28]
51 Vandenberg Village Engine 51 Rescue 51 Engine 351 [29]


Notable Incidents[edit]

Refugio oil spill[edit]

On May 19, 2015, the SBCFD responded around 11:40am to a report of a strong smell of oil coming from the area of Refugio State Beach.[30] Crews found a ruptured 24 inches (61 cm) line with crude oil running into the Pacific Ocean. The department stated the spill went into a culvert that ran under the U.S. 101, and into the ocean.[30] Representatives from Plains All American Pipeline stated that at the time of the spill the pipeline was operating at maximum capacity with a rate of 2,000 barrels per hour (84,000 US gal/h).[31]


  1. ^ "Budget for Fiscal Years 2014-15 & 2015-16". Santa Barbara County Budget. pp. D91–D104. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b "About SBCoFD". Santa Barbara County Fire Department. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  3. ^ "SB Paramedic Program". Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Type 1 Engine" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Type 3 Engine" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  6. ^ Asman, Amy (3 September 2013). "Santa Barbara County crews help fight Yosemite's Rim Fire". Santa Maria Sun. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Rim Fire Becomes Third-Largest Wildfire In California History". CBS Channel 13, Sacramento. 29 September 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Truck" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  9. ^ "N Number N205KS". FAA. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Air Support Unit" (PDF). SBC FD. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Helitender" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Mobile Water Supply" (PDF). SBCo Fire. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Rescue Ambulance" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Station 11" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Station 12" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  16. ^ "Station 13" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  17. ^ "Station 14" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Station 15" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  19. ^ "Station 17" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  20. ^ "Station 18" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Station 24" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Station 21" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  23. ^ "Station 22" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Station 23" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  25. ^ "Station 30" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  26. ^ "Station 31" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  27. ^ "Station 32" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Station 41" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  29. ^ "Station 51" (PDF). Santa Barbara County Fire. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  30. ^ a b Flores, Oscar (20 May 2015). "Oil Spill Off Santa Barbara County Coastline". KEYT. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  31. ^ "California Oil Spill Grows To 9 Miles Along Coast". Huffington Post. The Associated Press. 20 May 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015.

Coordinates: 34°32′N 120°02′W / 34.54°N 120.03°W / 34.54; -120.03