Mike Dyer, chief deputy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, has been named the new fire chief for Santa Barbara County.
He was chosen over Tom Franklin, who had been interim fire chief since November 2008. The announcement came at the beginning of Wednesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting. “We had a difficult, difficult time,” 5th District Supervisor Joe Centeno explained. “It was a really, really hard decision.”
Dyer, who begins August 3 with a salary of roughly $193,000, comes to Santa Barbara after 23 years at one of the largest departments in the nation. During his tenure in Los Angeles, he served as assistant fire chief, battalion chief, fire captain, and a firefighter. Prior to his time there he worked for eight years as an ocean lifeguard. “You are inheriting a tremendous, tremendous department,” Centeno told Dyer, who was introduced at this morning’s meeting.
Santa Barbara has proven recently to be ripe for fire, enduring three major fires over the last year, with close to 300 homes burned or destroyed in the process. Franklin was in charge of County Fire for the most recent, the Jesusita Fire. He came on in November 2008 as interim fire chief when Chief John Scherrei retired. Scherrei had been with the county since 1999, coming from the City of Los Angeles.
By all accounts, interim chief Franklin is a hard-working, stand-up guy who has garnered a lot of respect within the department and out. But the decision came down to qualifications, and Dyer has a near-impeccable resume, one needed to deal with the dangerous fire threat Santa Barbara has proven to be.
Dyer oversaw Los Angeles’s fire department emergency operations during the 2007 fires that swept through Southern California, including the Canyon Fire in Malibu, which damaged or destroyed 14 homes. For four years, until 2006, Dyer served as deputy chief and was a leader in regional operations and special operations. Dyer is certified as both a fire chief and Hazardous Materials Specialist by the state’s Fire Marshal’s office and has a master’s in public administration for Cal State-Northridge.
Franklin, known to be a team player, sat next to Dyer in the audience, and appeared with him in front of the supervisors. “I’m going to rely on him heavily,” Dyer said of Franklin. “I hope together we’re going to serve the citizens as best we can.”
Said Franklin, “I’m here to show support for Chief Dyer. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to work with him. I think we’re going to have a good time.”