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Santa Monica Fire Chief To Leave For Murrieta

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

April 10, 2015 -- Santa Monica Fire Chief Scott Ferguson has announced he is leaving the city to lead the Murrieta Fire Department, saying he wants more time for his family.

Ferguson said that working in Santa Monica had been wonderful, and that the “people, challenges and opportunities” all exceeded his expectations.

Now, he said, he and his wife were leaving to find “a new challenge and a little different change in pace” in Murrieta, a city in Riverside county which he said is growing and is in the early stages of becoming a hub of technology, healthcare and other interests.

“With that said,” he added, “the most important reason is family. Murrieta will provide us with more of an opportunity to live, work, and play in the community we serve.

“In fact, my mom is packing as I write this; she and her husband are going to move to Murrieta with us – that is pretty cool.”

Ferguson is leaving on May 10. He started as chief in March of 2010.
“For the past four years, our City has benefited from Chief Ferguson’s leadership, fire expertise and integrity that is ingrained in his work,” said Interim Santa Monica City Manager Elaine Polachek.

“He committed himself to his department, his colleagues and our community. Scott will be missed and Murrieta is lucky to have him as their Fire Chief.”

There is no word yet on who will replace him. Ferguson said he and the City Manager will develop a transition plan.

Ferguson said he is so serious about finding more time for his family that he is taking a pay cut – from $250,000 in Santa Monica to $190,000 in Murietta.

Ferguson said his major accomplishments during his tenure included achieving an ISO Class 1 rating – the highest – with the guidance of Deputy Chief Bruce Davis; beginning the design of new Fire Station 1, and working “side-by-side with other stakeholders to bring light rail to our community.”

Relationships with neighboring responders were also strengthened, as the SMFD worked closely with other fire personnel to enhance the training academy, policy formatting and technology, he said.

“I suppose the greatest achievement is that we worked together as a team to manage more challengers while providing the best possible customer service,” the chief said.
There are items Ferguson said he wishes he had accomplished. “It would have been nice to have been on the first light rail train as it pulled into downtown,” he said.

Ferguson added that he feels a sense of accomplishment now that the City is building a new fire station, another is being seismically upgraded and the department has won approval to hire new fire fighters.

The new chief “will have to embrace an understanding that things do not stand still in Santa Monica,” Ferguson   said. “The demands are great, but if you invest your time, listen, trust and adapt, you will get far more out of the experience than you put into it.”

Polachek said that during Ferguson’s tenure he and his officers managed more than 108 responders and 15 civilian staff in areas of medical emergencies, Hazmat, urban search and rescue, fire prevention and emergency preparedness.

During his tenure, Ferguson supported area special operations teams and created a virtual network of SMART classrooms, enhancing regional partnerships through training and safety programs, Polachek said.

Ferguson was also active with the Santa Monica Rotary, Human Relations Council, YMCA and Santa Monica College Advisory Board.

Ferguson served as the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association President, represented the association’s federal Homeland Security Grants interests and acted as liaison to the Regional Training Group. 

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