Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Announces Retirement

Chief Eric Nickel Stepping Down Due to Personal Issues Effective October 31

Eric Nickel | Credit: Courtesy

Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Eric Nickel confirmed this week what had long been rumored: that he was stepping down from his post due to personal issues. Nickel took the position nearly two years ago to replace the vacancy created when former chief Pat McElroy retired. But Nickel never really embedded himself within the department, his 23-year-old son having committed suicide in 2019. Nickel announced he would be stepping down effective October 31 so he can spend more time with his family. 

No announcements have yet been made relating to similar expectations regarding Santa Barbara City Police Chief Lori Luhnow. The chief committed to five years on the post when she took the job with the City of Santa Barbara, and those five years will be up as of early next year. City Administrator Paul Casey appointed both Nickel and Luhnow, and it will fall to him to select Nickel’s successor — and Luhnow’s, should she step down when her five years are up.


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