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Santa Monica Hires New Fire Chief


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By Jorge Casuso

January 25, 2024 -- City Manager David White on Thursday announced the hiring of Monterey Park Fire Chief Matthew Hallock to lead a much larger fire department in Santa Monica.

Hallock -- who has served as police chief in the San Gabriel Valley city since 2020 -- "brings 24 years of experience in public safety and emergency response," City officials said.

He "notably led his department and the community through the pandemic" and a mass shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio that killed 11 people after Lunar New Year festivities a year ago, officials said.

"Chief Hallock showed outstanding leadership and compassion during his tenure in Monterey Park, shepherding the fire department and the entire community through two major crises," White said in a statement.

"And with his vast experience in emergency preparedness and response, I am confident he will be a tremendous asset to our city leadership team."

Hallock will assume the $303,588-a-year post after heading the Fire Department of a city seven miles east of Downtown Los Angeles that has a smaller population than Santa Monica -- 61,000 compared to 93,000 -- and far fewer visitors and daytime workers.

In Santa Monica, Hallock will oversee an annual budget of more than $57 million, nearly triple Monterey Park's $20 million budget, and a staff of 137, compared to 65 in Monterey Park.

"Santa Monica is known for its commitment to community safety, and I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the exceptional Fire Department team," Hallock said in a statement.

"I look forward to building upon the department's strong foundation and working collaboratively with our community to ensure the highest level of emergency services."

Since June 2021, the Fire Chief's post has been a revolving door in Santa Monica.

Hallock replaces Interim Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe, who held the acting role for four months after Fire Chief Danny Alvarez returned to Burbank to head its Fire Department after a year and a half tenure in Santa Monica.

Alvarez, in turn had replaced his would-be successor Knabe, who held the post for eight months -- from June 2021 to February 2022 -- after replacing Fire Chief Bill Walker, who held the post for five years.

Hallock begun his fire service career as a reserve firefighter in 1994, then returned as a firefighter in 2002 and rose through the ranks, City officials said.

He also has experience working in the private sector, spending four years as an emergency preparedness planner at Southern California Edison.

Hallock has a master’s degree in public policy and administration from California State University, Long Beach and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer program through the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy, officials said.

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