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The primary goal of the Operations Division is to protect life, property and the environment. The division is staffed with well-trained personnel and teams with diverse and highly specialized skill sets to meet the wide ranging demands of the District. Because our firefighters are often the first responders to people in need, District firefighters provide many other valuable services to the community in addition to fire suppression, including emergency medical treatment and transport, technical rescue services and response to hazardous material releases.

Structure Fires

May contain: person, fire truck, transportation, truck, vehicle, machine, and wheel
Montecito Engine 191 pumping at a fire scene.

When Montecito firefighters respond to structure fires, our primary objectives are to preserve life and protect property. We safely arrive on the scene equipped with fire engines holding 500 gallons of water and essential firefighting equipment.

On our arrival, the Fire Captain will make a rapid assessment of the emergency, and transmit that information to incoming units. Of highest importance, we ensure the evacuation of all occupants from the building. Subsequently, either from inside the burning structure or from the outside, we direct powerful water streams at the flames to extinguish the fire.

Firefighters utilize tools such as axes and thermal imaging cameras to breach walls and doors, locate hidden fire pockets and prevent the fire's spread. Wearing specialized protective gear to shield against extreme heat and toxic smoke, our responders meticulously inspect each room, working collaboratively to bring the incident under control. 

 Wildland Fire 

Montecito Engine 391 providing assistance at a vegetation fire.
Montecito Engine 391 on a wildland fire assistant with final "mop-up" to declare the incident "out".

Wildland fires present a distinct set of challenges for firefighters compared to structure fires. These fires rapidly spread through our area grass, brush, nearby forests, and mountainous regions.

For fires in our area, we often utilize helicopters and aircraft to deploy water or fire-retardant chemicals onto the flames. On the ground, our personnel create firebreaks by clearing vegetation, which helps to impede the fire's progression. Tools such as shovels, chainsaws, and pulaskis are used to establish these barriers. We place hose lines on the fire edge to maintain control as the fire progresses.

In Santa Barbara County, all area agencies collaborate and respond effectively to control wildland fires as quickly as possible. Protecting the Wildland Urban Interface, wildlife habitats, and natural resources is a joint mission of all fire department personnel.

Vehicle Fires

Burnt vehicle interior with firefighters inspecting the aftermath.
Squad 91 personnel at a vehicle fire with minor impact to the nearby vegetation.

Vehicle fires necessitate prompt and decisive action from firefighters due to their inherent danger. Upon arrival, our priority is to secure the scene and ensure no individuals are trapped within the vehicle. Montecito firefighters utilize water from our fire engines to suppress the fire, exercising caution around hazards such as fuel tanks, tires, and airbags that may explode. They don protective gear to guard against intense heat and noxious fumes.

After extinguishing the fire, they inspect for residual hot spots that could reignite and ensure the fire does not spread to adjacent structures or vehicles. A rapid response is crucial in mitigating injuries and preventing further damage.

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