Santa Barbara City officials announced Tuesday that Chris Mailes has been appointed as fire chief of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.
The appointment comes after an extensive national recruitment process. Selected from 37 candidates, Chief Mailes was serving as the interim fire chief following the retirement of Eric Nickel in October 2020. Chief Mailes will oversee the fire department’s $30 million budget and 106 employees in eight fire stations.
Chief Mailes is no stranger to the area, having worked for the fire department for 28 years. He has served in various leadership positions since 1993 when he was hired as a firefighter, most recently serving as battalion chief where he oversaw one of the three shifts that rotate duty coverage in the city.
Prior to that, Chief Mailes was the department’s training officer, during which time he managed the training and compliance of the 90 firefighting personnel. He also oversaw the implementation of the department’s three-year, $460,000 automated fire station alerting system. He has extensive experience cooperating with regional and state fire agencies and commanding citywide emergencies.
In addition, Chief Mailes has served in leadership roles during numerous fires, including the Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow event in Montecito.
He received his bachelor’s degree from UCSB. Some of his other honors include receiving the Public Safety Award from the Rotary Club of Montecito and the Firefighter of the Year honor from the local Lions Club chapter.
“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,” Paul Casey, city administrator, said in a statement. “He is well regarded within the department and by fire professionals in the region.”
Chief Mailes said he was honored to be selected to lead the department.
“I am honored and humbled to be chosen to lead the City’s Fire Department,” he said in a statement. “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. We have an amazing group of dedicated women and men. I am honored to continue to ensure that our residents and visitors are well cared for by your Fire Department. I thank the City for having the confidence in me to lead this fine organization.”