Chris Mailes Is Santa Barbara’s New Fire Chief

Local Firefighter Chosen Amid National Search

Chris Mailes | Credit: Courtesy

After a broad national recruitment process, the City Council appointed Santa Barbara local Chris Mailes as the city’s new fire chief Tuesday.

“I am honored and humbled to be chosen to lead the City’s Fire Department,” Mailes said. “As a lifelong resident of the area and having been born and raised in the city, it is a special honor to care for my community.”

Since the previous fire chief, Eric Nickel, retired last October, Mailes has served as the interim fire chief. Now taking over the role permanently, Mailes will oversee the Fire Department’s $30 million budget and 106 employees in eight fire stations. Mailes was chosen from 37 candidates.

“It was a well-qualified group of finalists, and I chose Chief Mailes due to his professionalism, team dedication, tenure with the department, and excellent performance during his acting chief assignment,” said City Administrator Paul Casey. “He is well regarded within the department and by fire professionals in the region.”

Mailes has quite the background in firefighting. He has worked with the city’s fire department for 28 years, including in multiple leadership positions and during the 2017 Thomas Fire and 2018’s 1/9 Debris Flow. In his most recent position before interim fire chief, Mailes served as battalion chief and oversaw one of the three shifts that rotate duty coverage in the city. Prior to that, he served as the training officer and managed the training and compliance of the 90 firefighting personnel.

Mailes’s new annual salary will be $202,193.

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