Cal Fire Contract County Services

Santa Barbara County Fire Department (SBCFD) is one of six “Contract Counties” within the state of California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is responsible for fire protection within State Responsibility Areas (SRA) within all of the counties in the state. SRA is found in 56 of California’s 58 counties and totals more than 31 million acres. In most cases SRA is protected directly by CAL FIRE organized as geographical “Units”, however, in Santa Barbara, Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, and Ventura counties, SRA fire protection is provided by the individual counties under contract with CAL FIRE. As a Contract County, SBCFD protects 670,677 acres of SRA. In return for this service, CAL FIRE provides funding for services including wages of suppression crews, maintenance of firefighting facilities, fire prevention assistants, pre-fire management positions, dispatch, capital improvements, and administrative services. The Department’s budget also provides for expanded firefighting needs when fires grow beyond initial attack.

 SRA is made up of areas that are highly vegetated and/or forested and therefore present firefighting functions unique to vegetation fires. The vast majority of our communities that are considered “Wildland/Urban Interface” are located in the SRA. As a result of protecting this highly complex mix of residential structures within and immediately next to wildland areas, SBCFD provides wildland firefighting functions above and beyond those of the typical city fire department. Those services include firefighting helicopters, bull dozers, hand crews and water tenders.

 In addition, as a Contract County, SBCFD provides auto-aid and mutual aid wildland resources to fires throughout the state. Our agency regularly responds strike teams of engines, bull dozers, hand crews and overhead to support Cal Fire. In the last 5 years, SBCFD has assisted Cal Fire on 304 incidents in both southern and northern California.