Montecito Fire Protection District Presents 2021 Annual Report
As we step into 2022, Montecito Fire would like to share with the community our 2021 Annual Report. In it, we detail our successes and challenges in all aspects of our organization, from day-to-day operations to wildfire prevention work and community engagement. We encourage you to learn more about your Montecito Fire Department by reading our 2021 Annual Report, available now at montecitofire.com.
The Annual Report opens with the following message from Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor:
On behalf of the Montecito Fire Protection District, it is a pleasure to present our 2021 Annual Report to the community. The past year provided our organization with challenges, opportunities for improvement, and meaningful accomplishments that we are happy to share with you.
In the year following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, your Montecito Fire Department continued to adapt and progress, to maintain our exceptional emergency service to our community while still being mindful of the ongoing health crisis. Our committed and dedicated personnel strived for excellence in service to our community every day, regardless of pandemic factors. It is a commitment we will renew in 2022 and every year that follows, no matter what obstacles may come our way.
Our partnerships with our neighboring fire departments, emergency management agencies, local government entities, and community organizations are stronger than ever. This spirit of collaboration has resulted in solutions to issues our community has faced. In 2021, the fire chiefs of all Santa Barbara County agencies came together to champion the development of a Regional Fire Communications Center. The goal: to optimize dispatching operations and response times, while also utilizing taxpayer dollars more effectively.
We are grateful to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for their unanimous approval of the Regional Communications Center and to our fire service peers for working together to provide our community members across the county with not only the best but also the fastest emergency response service.
This decision will be a catalyst for change within the Montecito Fire Department. Our South Coast Dispatch Center will ultimately dissolve and become part of the Regional Fire Communications Center. While bittersweet, it is our Mission Statement to be a “progressive organization” that provides “professional and timely response to the needs of the community.” The decision to consolidate dispatch services will allow us to better achieve that mission.
Four years have now passed since our greatest disaster, and we remain mindful of debris flow risk. Our Storm Impact Consideration Map was recently updated by our professional engineering firm and shows a significant reduction in at-risk properties from prior years.
Our takeaway from this latest analysis is that we are still at some risk for debris flow and we will be for at least five years after the Thomas Fire, due to our community’s long history of flooding. However, with the recovery of the watershed and continual mitigation efforts to our flood control system, including the development of the Randall Road Debris Basin, we are at less risk than years prior.
Our Fire Prevention Bureau accomplished great work in 2021 to bolster Montecito as a wildfire-resilient community. In addition to our successful Neighborhood Chipping Program, roadside vegetation removal, and fuel treatment network improvement efforts, we launched the Vent Retrofit Program.
Our Wildland Fire Specialists secured a home-hardening grant to enable us to help community members replace old vents in their homes with specially engineered, ember-resistant vents. This program makes our whole community safer by reducing the possibility of house-to-house ignitions during a wildfire. We look forward to providing the Vent Retrofit Program again in 2022 and hardening many more homes in our community.
While many businesses and industries have struggled to rebound from the fiscal impacts of the pandemic, the Montecito Fire Protection District has remained financially sound thanks to our community’s great foresight in establishing our organization as an independent fire district.
We are grateful to our independent, elected Board of Directors for their guidance and prioritization of funds to empower your fire department to offer outstanding emergency response and fire prevention services.
It is our greatest honor, duty, and privilege to serve this community. We promise to be steadfast in our commitment to you in 2022 and deeply appreciate your enduring support.
The Montecito Fire Protection District 2021 Annual Report is available to read now on montecitofire.com.
Christina Favuzzi is the Montecito Fire Public Information Officer