After more than two years of service to the City of Santa Barbara, Fire Chief Ron Prince announced his retirement on Thursday, February 12; his last day as Fire Chief will be May 1, 2009. Prince, who began his firefighting career at the age of 19, oversaw a number of programs and services that raised fire awareness and preparation within the community. No lives were lost under Prince’s watch in any of Santa Barbara’s recent major blazes – the Zaca, Gap, and Tea fires – thanks to intelligent evacuation planning and swift firefighting response.
Prince oversaw the creation of a new Wildland Fire Benefit Assessment District in 2006, which provides funding for brush clearance, defensible space programs, and safety inspections for residents. He was also responsible for the complete reorganization of the Fire Department, which includes more than 1,115 personnel, in order to reduce service call response time. Most recently, Prince led his staff through the design and completion of the Fire Station Headquarters on Carrillo Street. The seismic retrofit project ensures that the critical public safety building will remain standing during a potential earthquake, and it now provides more space for a possible citywide emergency operations center.