Wolfgang Knabe New SMFD Chief
He will succeed Chief Bill Walker who is moving to Texas next month
June 3, 2021
By Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer
Wolfgang Knabe has been appointed as Interim Santa Monica Fire Chief, city officials announced Friday. He will start his temporary post June 10.
Knabe, a 40-year fire service veteran, will succeed current Fire Chief Bill Walker who announced last week he was stepping down on June 4 to head up the City of Bedford Fire Department in Texas.
Knabe retired as Fullerton/Brea's Fire Chief in 2018 and, in July of 2020, came out of retirement to lead the Manhattan Beach Fire Department as Interim Fire Chief.
"We are fortunate that Chief Knabe will bring his two decades of leadership experience as a Fire Chief to Santa Monica this summer," said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg in a statement. "His extensive knowledge and relationships within the Santa Monica Fire Department and across other Southern California agencies together with our strong Santa Monica Fire Department team ensure continued excellence in our fire services during this interim period."
Knabe joined the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) in 1980 following a tour of duty with the US Marine Corps. After 22 years of service with LAFD, he served as San Luis Obispo's fire chief from 2002 to 2005. Chief Knabe retired as Fullerton/Brea's Fire Chief in 2018, serving Fullerton since 2005 and both cities since 2011, when they merged to become one department.
Before retiring, Chief Knabe also served as a Reserve Police Officer with the LAPD for 16 years, seven assigned to the Department's SWAT Team.
"I hope to be able to continue the great work of Fire Chief Bill Walker while the City searches for a new Fire Chief," said Knabe. "I have seen firsthand the quality of the men and women of the Santa Monica Fire Department and am looking forward to working with them to make sure the department, the community, and the City's needs are met."
As Santa Monica's Interim Fire Chief, Knabe will lead a team of 134 firefighters and staff, and manage a budget of $46,326,372.
City officials said a nationwide recruitment for a new fire chief – led by The Hawkins Company – will begin in June.