The Los Padres Hot Shot Crew was established in 1948 as an initial attack and follow up crew for the Los Padres National Forest, which stretches from Monterey, California to Los Angeles, California. In 1948 a fire engine was assigned to the crew as well as a crew truck. The Los Padres Hotshot Crew’s primary mission was to provide wild land fire protection to the Santa Ynez Watershed that provides the primary water supply for the communities of Santa Barbara, Carpenteria, Montecito, Goleta and the Santa Ynez Valley.
From 1948 to 1965 the crew comprised of thirty-five crewmembers that provided seven-day coverage with twenty-four crewmembers. Crews were hired locally and staffed with forestry school student referrals as well as congressional referrals. This hiring procedure continued through 1965. When students returned to school, R-5, R-6, and R-1 Smokejumpers were hired to finish out the season.
In 1953 a three barracks complex and mess hall/office was constructed at the Los Prietos Ranger Station approximately 20 miles north of Santa Barbara.
In 1957 a Bell B-1 Helicopter was assigned to the crew for helitack and helishot assignments. The copter stayed with the crew until 1962 when it was designated as a separate unit.
In 1965 the crew name was changed to the Los Prietos Hotshots due to the addition of two other crews on the Forest (Monterey Hotshots & Ozena Hotshots both now disbanded). In 1974 the Ojai Hotshots were added to the Forest, which are now also disbanded. Due to no other hotshot crews remaining on the Forest, the crew name was changed back to the Los Padres Hotshots in 1994. In 1965 the crew strength was cut to twenty with five-day coverage to allow crews Inter-Regional mobilization by aircraft such as the DC-3 and Convair. In 1960 the chainsaw became the tool of choice and replaced the brush hook and misery whip.
The late sixties and early seventies (the post Vietnam years) brought in a lot of veterans to the organization. In 1977 Deanne Shulman joined the crew as the first woman hotshot in R-5. She later went on to become the first woman smokejumper. In the late sixties and early seventies the crew did the first experimental testing, in conjunction with MTDC, of fire line explosives and shot 10,000 feet on the Rattlesnake Fire (LPF) in 1975, which was the first use of FLE on a wildfire in R-5.
The crew has fought fire in all of the States west of the Mississippi, Alaska and throughout R-8. Some of the more notable fires were the Monrovia (1958), Bel Aire (1961), Coyote (1964), Wellman (1966), Marble Cone (1977), Canyon Creek (1988) and the Paint (1990).
The crew continues to provide a professional, multi-skilled, experienced resource to all wildland fire agencies throughout the United States.
Los Padres Hotshot Crew Superintendents
Ezra Braden – 1948 to 1951
Gordon Garrett – 1951 to 1953
Edwin Benson – 1953 to 1955
John Malmen – 1955 to 1958
H. "Porky" Moreno – 1958 to 1965
Richard Calkins – 1965 to 1968
Richard Grandalski – 1970 to 1972
Mark Linane – 1973 to 1999 (Retired in place)
Stan Stewart – 2000 to 2009 (Retired in
Steve Molacek - 2009 to Present