Bill Walker has been hired as Santa Monica’s new fire chief, according to a statement released by the City on Thursday night.
Walker will start work on May 2, overseeing the department’s 108 responders and 15 civilian staff. His annual salary will be $257,988.
The announcement caps a year of vacancy at the fire chief position following the departure of Scott Ferguson in April 2015. Dennis Downs has been serving as interim chief.
Hiring materials for the position described the ideal candidate as a collaborative and innovative leader willing to make a long-term commitment to ensuring Santa Monica remains a model of cutting-edge emergency response. The recruitment brochure asked for candidates willing to embrace the department’s history of customer service with a track record of decisive leadership and innovation.
Walker is tasked with running a department that is now dealing with expanded public transportation, a growing visitor population, new and taller development and emergency responses caused by chronic homelessness.
According to the City’s statement, Walker is the current fire chief for the City of Alhambra and comes to Santa Monica with 21 years of public safety experience.
“We were searching for a dynamic leader for our fire department,” City Manager Rick Cole said. “Chief Walker is that kind of leader and our city will benefit from his track record of community collaboration and commitment to service excellence. I am confident that he will be a great contributor to building a citywide culture of data-driven, results-oriented innovation.”
Walker’s background includes expertise in the areas of administration, building and safety, urban search and rescue, fire prevention, emergency medical services, staff training and community relations. In addition to holding the position of fire chief, Walker has served as building department director, battalion chief, captain, fire marshal and paramedic. In Alhambra, he administered an annual budget of more than $16 million and managed four fire stations and a fire training facility.
“I’m excited and honored to have the opportunity to join the Santa Monica Fire Department as Chief,” said Walker. “Santa Monica is a remarkable and progressive place and I look forward to working with the men and women of the department to continue the long standing tradition of providing first-rate service to the community.”