Scott Jalbert of Santa Cruz has been promoted to unit chief of the San Mateo-Santa Cruz unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Jalbert, who began his post Tuesday, Jan. 22, succeeds John Ferreira, who retired from in December after 10 years on the job.
“I’m excited about a new adventure,” Jalbert said. “I’m going to be here awhile and I’m optimistic that things on the fiscal side are improving. I’m looking forward to the future.”
Jalbert, 44, began his career as a fire explorer in 1983 at the Cal Fire Belmont Station. He became a firefighter there in 1987 and advanced to a level-two firefighter in San Luis Obispo and then to an engineer in Lake County.
He returned to San Mateo-Santa Cruz as a captain in 1998 and was part of a paramedic engine team in San Mateo. He was a training officer from 2001 to 2006 before his promotion to battalion chief in San Mateo, where he served from 2006 to 2010.
Jalbert took over as division chief of Ben Lomond Camp in 2010 and became deputy chief of the San Mateo-Santa Cruz unit in 2011. He stepped up as acting unit chief when Ferreira retired.
“I’ve got some big shoes to fill behind Chief Ferreira,” Jalbert said.
As unit chief, Jalbert is in charge of managing all aspects of Cal Fire’s San Mateo-Santa Cruz unit, including the Santa Cruz County Fire Department, Pajaro Valley Fire Department, Ben Lomond Conservation Camp, Soquel Demonstration Forest, San Mateo County Fire Department and Coastside Fire Protection District.
He is also in charge of resource management and will coordinate mutual aid between departments for Santa Cruz County.
“Anything that happens here has my name on it,” Jalbert said.
Jalbert said his immediate priorities include continuing to improve fire protection and prevention programs and developing his management team. Among that team are Rob Sherman of Ben Lomond, who was promoted to division chief of the Ben Lomond Conservation Camp last week, and Ian Larkin of Santa Cruz County, who was promoted to administrative chief in charge of human resources and finances in January 2012.
Jalbert also said he’ll be focused on fine-tuning state responsibility area boundaries and working through the fiscal challenges the state and his unit are facing.
The unit chief, who will work out of the Felton Cal Fire headquarters on Highway 9 and an office in San Mateo, is also excited to continue Cal Fire’s partnership with the volunteer departments in the area.
‘There is a very cooperative spirit in Santa Cruz,” he said.
Jalbert is married with a 2-year-old daughter, and he and his wife are expecting twins within a couple of weeks.