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Santa Monica Fire Chief to Leave Post

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By Lookout Staff

May 11, 2021 -- Santa Monica Fire Chief Bill Walker -- who headed the department through major changes and challenges, including the coronavirus shutdown -- announced he will be leaving the force next month.

Walker -- whose last day is June 4 -- will head the Fire Department in the City of Bedford, Texas, where he will be closer to his family.

Walker was chief of the Alhambra Fire Department when he was tapped five years ago by former City Manager Rick Cole to head SMFD, which has some 120 employees, five fire stations and an annual budget of nearly $40 million.

He led the department during a "period of transformation" that included adopting new technology, acquiring four new fire engines, building a new fire station Downtown and opening a station at the beach, City officials said.

“Santa Monica could not have had a better leader to see us through a period of significant transformation as our fire department stepped into the 21st century while heading to the frontlines of California’s most severe wildfires,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich.

“Bill is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and we’ve been fortunate to have benefited from his talents, expertise, and partnership over the last five years," Himmelrich said.

In a parting statement Walker called the Department's accomplishments "a team effort" by "members that got so many things accomplished."

"We were able to completely transform our use of technology, improve our logistical support to our Firefighters -- ensuring they had the uniforms, turnouts, tools, equipment, fire apparatus, and stations to do the job at the highest level," Walker said.

During Walker’s tenure SMFD "leaned into its key role as first responders to support the City’s commitment to addressing homelessness through a Community Response Unit," City officials said.

The unit uses a new technology platform that "allows first responders to share information with social workers and homeless services agencies to improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness."

In addition, SMFD partnered with UCLA on a Mobile Stroke Unit "to offer life-saving aid to people in cardiac crisis," officials said.

The City will appoint an Acting Fire Chief while the City conducts a nationwide recruitment. Chief Walker bio is available on

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