Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Michael Dyer addresses the media at the annual fire season briefing

Paul Wellman

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Michael Dyer addresses the media at the annual fire season briefing

County Fire Chief: ‘We Could Be in for a Rough Summer’

Officials Highlight Fire Preparedness and Ask Community to Do Its Part

Friday, May 10, 2013
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Fire chiefs from across Santa Barbara County delivered the sobering message Wednesday that fuel conditions are closer to the levels that normally occur in late June or early July. “We’re two months ahead of schedule,” noted Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Michael Dyer. “The lack of rain has had a serious effect on live fuel moisture throughout the county, and following below-average rainfall last year, we could be in for a rough summer.”

“We want to stress that we are prepared,” added CalFire Chief Robert Lewin. “We have more resources available than ever before, far more than at any time this early in the year.” High fire season officially began on April 25 in Santa Barbara County. Because of this declaration, all burn permits issued for hazard reduction have been suspended, and the number of resources available to local fire departments (for example, engines, dozers, crews, helicopters, etc.) has been increased.

Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy also added that California is always in fire season and highlighted the value of being prepared year-round. “We are ready to go at any minute,” McElroy said. “Every day — 365 days a year — we are in constant contact with other fire agencies in the county so we know what resources are available.”

“We are as prepared as we can be,” Lewin emphasized. “We are at peak staffing. Now we are asking the community to get prepared as well.” This includes clearing fuels from around homes, working with fire officials to prepare emergency plans, and learning how to “harden one’s home.”

Lompoc Fire Chief Kurt Latipow emphasized the need for every homeowner in high-fire areas to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. In past years, there has been discussion of the concept of “sheltering in place,” but local fire chiefs no longer believe it is a good idea. “Most of the deaths in Southern California wildfires occur during the evacuation phase,” Latipow explained. Often, residents wait too long to decide to evacuate or take too long to gather family possessions before leaving, he said.

“If you have the feeling like maybe you shouldn’t be there,” Santa Maria Fire Chief Dan Orr chipped in, “then it is probably time to go.” Latipow shared information about the “Ready, Set, Go!” program that all of the county firefighting agencies have adopted. “If there is one message we need to stress, it is to be as prepared as possible and to get out early,” Chief Orr said.

Ready, Set, Go! emphasizes three basic concepts:

Ready — Take personal responsibility and prepare long before the threat of a wildland fire. Create defensible space by clearing brush away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping, and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures. Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe place. Plan escape routes and make sure all those residing within the home know the plan of action.

Set — Practice situational awareness. Pack your emergency items. Stay aware of the latest news and information on the fire from local media, your local fire department, and public safety.

Go! — Act early. Follow your personal wildland fire action plan. Doing so will not only support your safety but will allow firefighters to best maneuver resources to combat the fire.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Carbon Dioxide hit 400ppm. It is now hotter than at any time in the last 4000 years of mankind on the planet.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 7:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It was really stupid to remove the desal plant.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 8:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Michael Dyer and SB County Fire ignore blatant high fire risk activity. Apparently public safety and protection from massive wildfire potential takes a backseat to the interests of wedding, events and pro-tourism supporters.

switzerneighbor (anonymous profile)
May 11, 2013 at 8:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This in no-way is a dig on the fire profession just what I have observed firsthand and why your local politicians should be asking questions... There will probably be fire fighters and/or individuals who will try to discredit what is posted here but all you have to do is a little research on your own to find the truth.

The only thing that "High Fire" season brings is an upward trend in new Motor-home sales, Boat sales and Jet-Ski's sales. All you have to do is look at all these vehicles traveling up and down the coast with all the fire helmet stickers on the back windows.

"High Fire" season brings literally in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to many individuals. In most cases it is nearly a hundred thousand per fire fighter each. "High Fire" season is a season which brings greed to the profession. DO NOT TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, do your own research and ask for salaries to be released using the Freedom of information act. You will be shocked at the amount of what your local fire fighter makes in salary.

"High Fire" season is a well known greed fest and get all you can get while the getting is good in the fire service. Ever wonder why fires cost so much?? Ask questions, get the scoop. Ask your local fire fighters what "Portal to Portal" means. You'll be shocked at what they tell you if they tell you at all... Ask your local fire fighters about how they can give each other 24 hours of OT then pay each other back! Ask why the fire union is in charge of how OT is distributed.

Fire fighters work 10 days a month and in some cases make nearly $150K to $200K with OT. They will tell you they work 24 hour shifts but fail to say they sleep on-duty. They will tell you they work a 56 hour work week, but, will fail to tell you that part of this work week has built-in OT that is part of their overall salary which boosts their salary at retirement time.

Fire fighters in this county are not over worked and at MOST stations throughout the county some will not run 1 call a day or shift. These are facts that can not be denied if journalists only did their jobs and pulled stats from the county or cities and did an in-depth investigation so all could see the truth.

I actually would like the County Grand Jury to investigate this and post their findings. It would be very interesting reading and an eye opener to all who pay taxes, especially those who are now paying an additional "Fire" fee placed on your property taxes that go to fire districts outside city limits....

Do we really need a fire station on every corner? Do we really need 100 fire fighters sleeping on-duty at 2am? I like to think of it this way. At 2am a burglar is breaking into your home, you call 911 for help, would you tolerate a police officer or sheriff's deputy having to get out of bed, get dressed and respond to your plea for help??? If not, then why do you tolerate the same if your house is on fire or your spouse is having a medical emergency??

Priceless (anonymous profile)
May 12, 2013 at 7:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I say give the firefighters a raise after reading Priceless' summation. And yes we really do need multiple stations. How much of that blather should one bother even answering?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 12, 2013 at 11:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

That's the typical answer I knew Ken would post. I guess the "blather" is to much to comprehend and give an educated opinion because as we all know (and this is just an educated guess) Ken is a liberal who can't do any research on his own and depends on government to wake him up in the morning, feed him, drive him to the welfare office, take him back home, feed him again then put his nighties on and read him a story. Thanks Ken you always make my mornings...

Priceless (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 4:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What's wrong with answering questions? It's good to question! These are public agencies and there should be public accountability.

As for the Grand Jury, a new one is in the process of being impanelled. It starts in July. They decide by majority vote which questions to research and there's no guarantee at all. (This year, unlike all past ones, there is nothing posted on GJ web site: so maybe it is defunct.)

If it still exists, formalize your question and submit it sometime after July. It is certainly within the jurisdiction of the Grand Jury.

at_large (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 7:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

priceless......bfd. go join the fire dept and soothe that envy.

liberals vs conservatives have nothing to do with your moaning.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 7:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good Lord Priceless - we have had our first spring wildfire ever, and you call "High Fire" a racket. This year has had one of lowest rainfalls - the wildflower display this year was pathetic, and grasses have turned brown far sooner than they should. I think you need some remedial plant and water level education.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 8:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

While I might not agree with all that "priceless" says . I do think journalists , such as Ray Ford ( if that's what you call him) SHOULD be asking questions like these. Instead we too often get these "carefully handled" PR pieces that in many cases state either the obvious or what we already know. Not only is it insulting to people who actually think - BUT it is a dis-service to the public, who papers like the Independent claim to support, and inform.

If there is nothing of merit discovered, then what harm is done? What is so wrong with asking questions ( as long as they are intelligent, well thought out and done so with respect and not attacks) ?

yendopostal (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 9:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

lawdy, envy?? Whats envy have to do with gouging taxpayers?? Again, I just love the uneducated comebacks from people who have no idea what they are talking about other than what they have been told by the media. I don't need to "Join the Fire Dept." I actually work for a living. Thanks.

tabatha, yes, its a racket. I'll say it again. Do some research of your own and quit taking what you are told as truth. You want to explain why four Battlion Chief in the county made over $181K nearly as much as the fire chief? A BC is four levels down from the chief. Why 36 Captains made over $131K with six over $160K? Yes tabatha, lawdy and Ken don't let facts get in the way you just keep your heads in the sand and let the Board of Supervisors continue to raise the salaries of people who are already overpaid and under worked. When the county runs out of money maybe you'll be able to call County Fire to come over and take care of you, console you and make sure you get tucked into bed every night...

Just love you keyboard jacks of all trades masters of none...

Priceless (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 11:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I was not talking about salaries. I was talking about the threat of fire - as in "High Fire". If you can find a discussion of salaries in my last post, then you have a point.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 11:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here is a post about salaries. If "Fire" salaries are an issue, here is something to really get everyone's goat, and thousands of pages of ink will never change it.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 12:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

this is in no way a dig at the fire profession..... then you write 2 essays doing just that.

envy is right. firefighter stickers on the back of new vehicles......really? that's in envious.

priceless, you choose to live your life in a certain do the doubt the compensation and benefits are attractive and attract candidates.

please don't come on here with conversation about your 'concern' for county are straightup jealous.

.new motorhomes, jetskis, boats......woe is me.

'this is no way a dig at the fire profession'... other than the following 1000 words.

let it go.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 12:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Was the Forest Service in attendance? Did anyone ask them if they’re fully staffed and prepared? All the dire fire predictions plus actual major events (Springs Fire, etc.) and they haven’t even given their seasonal firefighters a start date. Good luck to us if something starts on the LP.

JJ50 (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

yeah, jealous hits it... writing against someone priceless doesn't know, that he "depends on government to wake him up in the morning, feed him, drive him to the welfare office, take him back home, feed him again then put his nighties on and read him a story." Go back and reread hayek's Road to Serfdom, you'll feel better.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 12:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Probably the stupidest statement thus far has been the one questioning the need for multiple fire stations. And we're supposed to take that person seriously.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 1:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

People who think firefighters are overpaid and under worked are the same people who scream the loudest when their home is in danger. That said, the statements made in the article should be considered critically. In particular, the statement by the Cal-Fire chief that we have more resources available than ever before is clearly wishful thinking, if not a complete fantasy. We haven't had air tankers based in Santa Barbara for years. The county no longer maintains a hand crew. The helicopter fleet has serious maintenance problems. The county eliminated its reserve firefighters many years ago.

Having seen brush fires in this area for over 50 years, it is clear that there are never enough resources to deal with a major fire driven by wind and dry fuel. Hillsides that have not burned for years present about the same risk regardless of recent rainfall. Every year has the potential to be a bad year. Saying that we could be in for a bad fire season is about as profound as saying we could have an earthquake sometime soon.

Public officials should not waste their time or ours with media events that do not serve any useful purpose.

SY_radioman (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 5:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'd say the media event did it's job, we're all talking about fire safety aren't we?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 5:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Because so many destructive fires (Zaca) have been caused by careless actions - these media events are CRITICAL in waking people up to the potential for utter disaster that can result from small actions such as tossing a cigarette out of the window.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 7:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Getting back to Ken's comment...what about the desal plant?

Ironically, as more fires occur and burn down houses, the new ones built in their place have more fire-resistant materials.

As Tabatha points out, careless actions are a big problem. I've heard most fires are accidental.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 3:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

tabatha wants to talk about CEO's salaries, lawdy thinks I'm jealous and Dr. Dan wants to write about me not knowing what I'm talking about. You all have proven my point that you know nothing about what your talking about. You write as if you have done research to prove that I'm wrong and then spew garbage that shows your ignorance. This is just a guess but one would think that some of you are either county employees or Fire Fighters trying to justify your jobs.

First, my point about, "new motorhomes, jetskis, boats" was to how they game is played concerning overtime and how each fire fighter can give each other 24 hours of OT which in turn costs tax payers hundreds of thousands a year. Goggle San Francisco Fire fighter overtime. There they are raking in over $220K to $300K. Goggle Nevada Fire Fighter pay. Nevada actually prosecuted people. The same is happening in LA, SD and look at their budgets. By the sound of it you all are good with this kind of government abuse of tax payer monies or maybe you are feeding at the trough yourselves.

Second, I know many fire fighters who have told me personally they depend on the huge amount of OT to pay off these vehicles. Please don't tell me what I know first hand especially coming from someone who just hides behind a keyboard and posts idiotic opinions rather than substance which can easily be located if you have a second grade education.

Third, not one of you have done any research on salaries in this county. Again, something that can be located easily.

Fourth, I guess not one of you can read because there have been numerous articles in the paper regarding our fiscal problems yet some of you want to continue to give raises as if we have a money tree in the counties backyard. In today's SB Newspress is an article on the first page regarding the looming 13.7M deficit that will hit in the next few years. If you read lower you will see the elimination of Fire Sta. #11. Not that this will happen, but it is noted for closure.

Yes, ignorance is bliss, and the Kool-Aid is flowing like water. You want to continue ignoring facts that's your problem. When the money finally runs out you will only have yourselves to blame. Oh, and just for the record County Fire Fighters still have 11% in raises the next two years. They are the only county employees getting raises while all other employees gave up raises and most county employees are on furloughs. All this while we have a looming deficit coming. But then again, who needs to research facts right?

Priceless (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 7:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

priceless, if anyone tells you that you have a supercilious attitude, give them a high five from me.

I'm glad you don't have an axe to grind @<@, and I hope that you get a new boat soon too.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 10:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Priceless I think you might be confused regarding the budget and the Fire Dept. The City or County does not go out and purchase individual fires. The money you see in the budget is to put them out, not put them on. In other words, we are trying to STOP fires, not acquire them.
Now you can probably see why it is an issue, why we need multiple fire stations etc. It's not a luxury item.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 11:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

welll, hey, relying on the News-Suppress means you are really up to date, Priceless, and that you do a lot of meaningful research on Goggle [sic]. I need to get out from behind my computer an DO stuff like you. Highly amusing.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 11:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't think the News-Press published an attack on the Fire Dept.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 11:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)


Exactly what I would expect an uninformed individual to say.
Facts, who needs them, they just in the way of reality. I wish I could live in the bubble you live in.

I could write your posts for you because I know exactly what your going to say. Attack the messenger, say I have an axe to grind you have nothing to bring to the table but an uninformed opinion based on what? You've said nothing that disproves anything I've said. At least bring an intelligent coherent discussion to the table. But then again that would take intelligence.

Here are some more facts for you to look up lawdy, Goggle Santa Barbara County Firefighters “527” Political contributions information. Look at the amount of money spent by county fire fighters to buy politicians to give them what they want. I know lawdy, I'm jealous I should become a fireman so I too can live off the trough and say I'm over worked and need more money, right?

To SY_Radioman,

Ask County Fire why they eliminated their reserves. The fire union hates reserves, volunteers and anybody who wants to help with fire fighting. There is a reason why Orcutt and Solvang no longer have volunteers, they pushed them out. Ask the Painted Cave volunteer FD about county fire and what they think of them. Ask Search & Rescue what county fire thinks about them and their ability to respond on calls. Ask AMR what county fire thinks about them. There is a common denominator in all of this and it is county fire believing they are the premier fire agency in the county. SB County Fire is one of the most arrogant fire departments in the State. They have quite the reputation (Hint) among fire departments.

Again this takes initiative in ones ability to ask proper questions. Something most who post nothing but garbage fail to understand.

Yes lawdy, I am a one person band attempting to inform the uninformed into doing just a little research on their own to become just a little informed on what they post. It is quite an uphill battle...

Priceless (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 11:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)


Since you asked, where do you get your information?

It is quite obvious your more informed than I because you have brought meaningful discussion to the table....

Priceless (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 11:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I see a new messiah has arrived.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 12:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

priceless, is it too late to save these future political toadies?

lawdy (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 1:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I see asking to do your own research is above and beyond your ability to comprehend basic judgement. That's ok, Fruit Loops and Saturday cartoons has made billions on sheepole like you.

Yes lawdy it's too late, once they join the union they will become pawns of the political process. Their union dues will go to whomever their union bosses want as their cronies.

As I said before, you must be part of that political union process that causes all intelligent matter in your brain to flow freely out of your ears and you regurgitate whatever you are told to say.

You have fun with that. See you on the next issue that comes to light. I'll be looking forward to your intelligent wisdom and union BS...

Peace out.....

Priceless (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 5:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Darn, just as my appetite for anonymous internet insults had been whetted.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 6:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A cynic would suppose your view would be different if they voted along your party lines.

But your earnest concerns no doubt supercede your political bent, huh.

I read some of your posts. If the person that calls you supercilious also points out you take yourself far too seriously......well, y'know......high five.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 7:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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