Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 7:20 pm | Fair 59º


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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >