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Local News

Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy Will Retire in March

Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy Click to view larger
Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy (City of Santa Barbara photo)

After serving four years as Santa Barbara’s fire chief and 36 years with the department, Pat McElroy announced Monday that he will retire in March 2018.

“It has been the great privilege of my life to work with the firefighters and staff of the City Fire Department for the people of Santa Barbara,” McElroy said in a statement.

“This is my family’s hometown and the personal and professional relationships we have made over these past four decades have given us a deep sense of belonging to Santa Barbara — but the time for me to step away has arrived.”

McElroy, who was named chief in 2013, previously worked as battalion chief and operations division chief in the department.

City Administrator Paul Casey will be evaluating options to fill the position and will appoint someone in the months prior to McElroy’s departure, according to Nina Johnson, senior assistant to Casey. 

McElroy graduated from UC Santa Barbara and started seasonal work with the U.S. Forest Service in 1976, according to the city.

His first major blaze was the 1977 Sycamore Canyon Fire in Santa Barbara.

In 1981, he was hired by the Santa Barbara City Fire Department as a firefighter, and was later promoted to captain, battalion chief and operations division chief. 

McElroy also serves as a liaison officer for a Type 1 Federal Incident Management Team. 

He has responded to incidents throughout the United States, including Hurricane Katrina, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake near Los Angeles, and fires throughout the western United States. 

He  was part of the unified command for the 2008 Santa Barbara Tea Fire in the Montecito foothills, and 2009 Jesusita Fire in the hills above Santa Barbara.

Pat McElroy has worked at the Santa Barbara City Fire Department since 1981. Click to view larger
Pat McElroy has worked at the Santa Barbara City Fire Department since 1981. (City of Santa Barbara photo)

He responded to major local fires, including three fires on Stearns Wharf, the 1990 Painted Cave Fire, the 1999 Santa Barbara Bank & Trust Fire, the 2009 La Brea Fire, and the 2017 Whittier Fire,

“I have loved this career and the people I have been able to work with through the highs and lows that accompany a career in public safety,” McElroy said.

“I truly believe that the firefighting community in Santa Barbara County is one of the best in the country. I am confident that the fire department is in excellent hands with an experienced, talented staff at all levels.”

The Santa Barbara City Firefighters Association honored McElroy as Firefighter of the Year in 1987 and in 1996.

“Chief McElroy is the quintessential firefighter,” Mayor Helene Schneider said. ​“In my 14 years at City Hall, I've worked with him as president of the City's Firefighters Association, to Battalion Chief to heading the department. Pat is a true leader with a keen mind and a compassionate heart, and I'm honored to call him a friend. I wish him the best in his retirement.”

McElroy served as the chair of Santa Barbara Firefighters for Better Government, and as a board member and president of the Santa Barbara Firefighters Association. 

He is currently serving as president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Santa Barbara County and is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the California Fire Chiefs Association and the Western Fire Chiefs Association

He is also a board member for Doctors Without Walls - Santa Barbara Street Medicine.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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