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Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor announces retirement

Posted at 5:12 PM, Feb 13, 2023

Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor announced Monday his upcoming retirement from the Montecito Fire Department.

Chief Taylor began his career in fire service in 1987. He has been with Montecito Fire for 8 years, becoming chief in 2019. Chief Taylor's last day will be March 31.

“Chief Taylor has made a lasting impact on Montecito Fire Department and our community,” said Billy Wrenn, President of the Montecito Firefighters Association. “He has led us through complex incidents, including the 1/9 Debris Flow, and navigated significant challenges over the last eight years, all with a steadfast commitment to making the best decisions for the safety of our community members, firefighters and staff.”

Over the course of his career, Chief Taylor has served in every rank of the fire department. He began as a seasonal firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Where he began his long career on the Central Coast.

After working as a seasonal firefighter, he became an emergency medical technician and began working for San Luis Ambulance. He went on to attend paramedic school at Stanford University and completed the basic fire academy at Allan Hancock College. In 1991, he was hired in his hometown of Paso Robles as a firefighter/paramedic where he spent 24 years, moving up the ranks.

In February 2015, Chief Taylor joined Montecito Fire Department as Division Chief of Operations. He led Montecito Fire and the community through the worst disaster in Santa Barbara County history – the 1/9 Debris Flow in 2018 when 23 community members were lost, along with hundreds of homes

“This career has been the honor of my life. What makes it even more gratifying is that I am able to step away and leave the organization and community in exceptionally capable hands,” Chief Taylor said. “When the Board hired me to be the Fire Chief, our goals were to enhance the culture of empowerment and ensure executive development by passing along every lesson I have learned throughout the course of my career. My hope is that this has laid a strong foundation of resilience, progress and preparedness."

The Board selected the current Division Chief of Operations, David Neels, as Chief Taylor’s successor. Chief Taylor and Chief Neels are working together to ensure a smooth transition. Chief Neels’s promotion will take effect April 1.