SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on its website on Monday, August 14th, that Wolfgang Knabe will become the interim Fire Chief. Knabe’s appointment comes after the departure of current Fire Chief Danny Alvarez who will leave his position on August 31st. Knabe has over 43 years of fire department service. He recently retired as the Fullerton/Brea Fire Chief in 2018, after serving Fullerton beginning in 2005, and both cities since 2011 after they merged into one department.
He served as the Santa Monica interim Fire Chief from June 2021 through February 2022, before serving stints as the interim Fire Chief for Manhattan Beach from July 2020 through June 2021, and as the interim Deputy Fire Chief for the city of Beverly Hills from March 2022 through August 2022.
“Chief Knabe’s decades of leadership, knowledge about the Santa Monica Fire Department, and extensive relationships throughout the region will be invaluable during this transition,” said City Manager David White. “I’m grateful to have him return as the City’s interim Fire Chief to ensure our Fire Department has a strong leader while continuing to provide excellent service to our community.”
Knabe’s career started with the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1980 after a tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps. He served the LAFD for 22 years before becoming the Fire Chief for San Luis Obispo from 2002 through 2005.
Chief Knabe served as a Reserve Police Officer with the LAPD for 16 years, including 7 years assigned to the department’s SWAT Team.
“I’ve worked first-hand with the incredible women and men of the Santa Monica Fire Department and hope to continue the great work of Chief Alvarez,” Knabe said. “I am looking forward to ensuring that the needs of the department and the community are met as the City searches for a new fire chief.”
He will lead a team of 137 firefighters and staff and manage a budget of $54,447,926. Knabe’s first day on the job will be Friday, September 1st.