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The following article was posted on September 5th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 27 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 27

Santa Barbara County fire chief to retire in October

By Kasey Bubnash

Santa Barbara County Fire Department Chief Eric Peterson formally announced Aug. 31 plans to retire by the end of October. 

Peterson, who was appointed to the position in January 2015 by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, said that while he'll surely miss his work with the fire department, he felt it was time to let someone else step up and take the reins. 

After only about three years leading the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Chief Eric Peterson announced on Aug. 31 plans to retire next month.

"I turn 54 in October and there comes a point where you feel like it's time to give someone else a shot at it," Peterson said, "and I've kind of reached that point." 

Peterson has worked in the county Fire Department for nearly 32 years, since he started as a firefighter in 1987 and eventually climbed the ranks, serving as an engineer, captain, president of Firefighters Local 2046, training battalion chief, operations battalion chief, fire marshal, and deputy fire chief before his stint as chief. 

In that time, Peterson battled some of the most damaging fires in California history, including the Painted Cave, Zaca, Alamo, Whittier, Thomas, and the Holiday, according to a county press release.

Peterson said he expects it will feel strange to leave the department, but he said he'd like to shift his focus to his two young children, and possibly a new career path. Despite some speculation that Peterson might run for elected office, he said, "I don't have any desire to do that, but I like the idea of staying involved in some way." 

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has not yet named an interim chief, according to a county press release, but one should be chosen before Peterson's retirement. The search for a permanent chief will begin sometime this month. 

Although Peterson said he still has some final touches he'd like to make on the department before he leaves next month–he'd like to further the ongoing conversations surrounding local field management and dispatch systems–he said he has no doubt the county will be left in good hands. 

"This county is really lucky in that it has a lot of unbelievably dedicated people working to keep it safe," Peterson said.

Weekly Poll
What do you think of the changes Santa Barbara County made to its cannabis ordinances?

It was too early to make any changes. The industry is still new.
The changes were necessary. Cannabis farms are ruining our quality of life.
The changes are too restrictive and could stifle a growing industry.
More changes are needed to address the odor problems and other issues.

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