A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday morning at the City of Santa Barbara’s Fire Station 7, located at 2411 Stanwood Drive. While Mayor Helene Schneider poised to cut the ribbon, City Fire Chief Pat McElroy noted the need for an increased presence along the higher fire risk areas within the city.
“With the increase in the number of wildfires and their severity, we’re looking at vehicles that are more reflective of the type of problems we’re now facing,” McElroy said. “These engines give us a lot more maneuverability in the high fire areas and the narrow roads we have in the foothills.”
The vehicle was not cheap, clocking in at just under $400,000. But along with its increased ability to respond to wildfires, it allows the city to move its other Type 3 engine, just back from a 14-day stint on the Rim Fire, to the Ontare station, thus expanding response capabilities in the San Roque area as well.
Another important consideration for Chief McElroy was that City Fire be looking at what needs will be 10-to-15 years from now. What made the purchase of the new engine possible is the Vehicle Replacement Fund the city set up about 10 years ago which allows the fire department to fund the engines over their lifespans. “We’re starting to fund this engine’s replacement now,” McElroy explained, “so that when the engine needs replacing we have a pot of money to use for it.”
The Type 3 designation of Engine 307 is smaller than the Type 1 engines used in fighting city fires, but their smaller size, 4-wheel drive, and pumping capabilities make it perfect for fighting fires in the wildland-urban areas that have experienced our most recent fires. The engine has a capacity of holding 500 gallons of water as well as connecting in to additional water supplies to serve as a pumping base for other engines or hose lines that are often as long as a mile in length.
Station 6 Engine Captain Chris Woodcock noted that the engine has the capability of pumping water to great elevations as well, noting that it could support lines up to the mountain crest if needed. At one point Woodcock pointed over to an orange bag that he said could hold an additional 500 gallons of water. “We can pump water directly out of that and through to the hose lays,” he added. “As long as we can keep re-supplying it from a source like a water tender or body of water we can draft from it and keep pumping it out.”