Interview with Brett Reed, Ventura’s Fire Marshall

Brett Reed began his career in the fire service with the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department.

Q. When were you promoted to be Fire Marshal in Ventura?

A. I was selected as the City’s Fire Marshal in June of 2022

Q.What is your experience in fire departments and specifically in Ventura

A.I began my career in the fire service with the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department in 2006 as a volunteer firefighter, was hired full-time as a firefighter and fire inspector in 2007, and served that community for 13 years. With Mammoth Fire, I gained a tremendous amount of experience in wildland and structure firefighting, as well as fire prevention experience as the only fire inspector. I have a strong background in risk reduction and have completed State Fire Inspector Training and have completed numerous courses through the National Fire Academy for fire inspection principles, fire and arson origin, cause determination, and I am a certified Code Council Inspector and Plans Examiner. Upon leaving Mammoth, I held the ranks of Fire Engineer and Fire Inspector II.

I was hired with Ventura Fire in January 2019 as a Fire Prevention Specialist. My role in that position was to perform inspections for fire protection systems and fire code requirements for new construction. I was also responsible for performing plan reviews for permit applications for fire protection systems and new construction. In 2020, I promoted to Fire Prevention Supervisor where I was responsible for supervising our fire inspectors and hazardous materials inspectors. I also oversaw the fire prevention permitting process and plan review processes.

Q. How is one selected to be fire marshal

A. The selection process for fire marshal is an application and interview process. As with everything, there are many different paths to becoming a Fire Marshal, however, the qualifications and experience needed are similar among differing agencies and cities. Fire Marshals typically start their career as either a Fire Inspector or Firefighter and promote through the ranks in either Fire Operations or Fire Prevention.

Q. What are the duties of fire marshal

A. It is the Fire Marshal’s responsibility, as the Fire Prevention Division Manager, to oversee the community risk reduction programs of the division including the development fire plan review and inspection, hazardous materials enforcement, occupancy inspections, defensible space inspections, fire review for special events, and fire operations support programs. Essentially, any program that addresses fire prevention, the Fire Marshal has a hand in overseeing and related experience is always valuable.

Q. The phrase “The fire Marshall is going to shut you down” is well known. Can you shut down a business and/or music venue

A. The California Fire Code authorizes the Fire Marshal to take certain steps when it is determined that fire code violations exist. If a facility is overcrowded the fire code states that fire code officials “shall be authorized to cause the event to be stopped until such condition or obstruction is corrected.” If a facility, or building is determined to be unsafe as described in the fire code, we are authorized to evacuate the building and take other steps to assure the condition is made safe. Our intent would be to correct unsafe or life-threatening situations and not to shut the business down.

Q. What happens if they refuse to shut down?

A. If a facility refuses to cooperate with the orders of the fire department, we will request assistance from law enforcement to assist in our efforts.

For further information contact the Fire Prevention Division at 805-658-4717. Contact Fire Marshal Brett Reed directly at [email protected].

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