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Fire Chief to Depart After Brief Tenure

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By Lookout Staff

August 2, 2023 -- Fire Chief Danny Alvarez will return to Burbank to head its Fire Department after a year and a half tenure in Santa Monica, City officials said in a surprise announcement Wednesday.

Alvarez replaced Interim Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe on February 28, 2022 after a seven-month nationwide search to permanently fill the post. His last day will be August 31, officials said.

Alvarez -- whose starting annual salary was $282,048 -- led a department in Santa Monica of 122 sworn and 15 non-sworn personnel with an annual budget of $44.5 million.

The department's size in nearly identical to that of Burbank's, where Alvarez rose from firefighter to second in command during his quarter-century career.

“Our Fire Department has accomplished so many incredible things under Chief Alvarez’s leadership,” said City Manager David White, who hired Alvarez.

“I will miss working with Chief Alvarez, but I’m happy his career has come full circle and he’s going back home to his Burbank Fire family as their top leader,” he said.

White tapped Alvarez "due to his well-rounded experience, data-driven approach to management, and his commitment and track record to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

During his brief tenure, Alvarez developed the first strategic plan for the Santa Monica Fire Department, which received re-certification for Class 1 rating, the highest issued nationwide by the Insurance Service Organization for outstanding fire protection.

Alvarez also established a formal Fire Department diversity, equity and inclusion work group and initiated a program for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers to leave behind an Overdose Response Kit when responding to an opioid-related overdose.

In addition, Alvarez added grant-funded automated CPR devices "to all front-line apparatus that increase blood flow to the brain and oversaw the completion of a new training facility.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the Santa Monica Fire Chief and work alongside the dedicated staff of the Santa Monica Fire Department, who serve our community with the utmost professionalism and compassion,” Alvarez said in a statement.

“Santa Monica is a beautiful city and a wonderful community," he said. "I am incredibly grateful for all the friendships and professional relationships I have developed with members of our community, City staff, and members of the Fire Department.”

Alvarez will replace Burbank Fire Chief Eric Garcia, who is retiring. White has not announced a replacement for Alvarez.

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