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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 1:40 pm | Fair 61º


Eric Peterson Chosen as New Santa Barbara County Fire Chief

After emerging from closed session during its Tuesday meeting, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors announced that the unanimous selection of a new county fire chief.  

Eric Peterson

Eric Peterson, a 28-year veteran of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, was chosen for the spot and has been currently working as the deputy chief to Chief Michael Dyer, who is retiring this month.

Dyer has served in the position since 2009 and Peterson will begin his new role as chief on Feb. 2.

A national search was conducted to fill the open position, but supervisors ultimately approved hiring someone with local roots.

Peterson was born and raised in Santa Barbara County and started his career with the department in 1987, making him a veteran of the Painted Cave, Tea and Jesusita Fires, according to a county statement.

During that time, Peterson has served as a fire captain, battalion chief, division chief, fire marshal, and deputy fire chief, as well as union president from 1995 to 2005.   

Peterson has an associate's degree from Santa Barbara City College, bachelor's degree in public safety administration from Charter Oak State College and is currently completing a master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University at Northridge.

He and his wife, Kit, have 5-year old twins.   

"I want the community to know that I have a strong affinity and connection with this county. This is my home turf," Peterson told Noozhawk Tuesday.  

"This organization is here to protect them."

Peterson said he'll be taking the job in the middle of the department's budget cycle, and one of his top priorities is making sure the department uses its resources well. 

"My greatest challenge is just making sure we're making the best of our opportunities," he said.

In his new position at the department, Peterson will lead a department that supports 16 fire stations, 258 positions and an annual operating budget of $60 million.

Peterson said Tuesday that it was hard to find words to describe how he feel about the opportunity to lead.

"I have a great team and more talent coming up the ranks than anyone could hope for," he said. "The future of this fire department is bright and I am proud to get to play a bigger role in it."

Board chair Janet Wolf called Peterson a "committed leader who has worked his way through the ranks" and commended his ability.

“We look forward to Eric’s leadership as our new chief," she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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