Bedford hires chief who built fire station on the beach, established mobile stroke unit

After a national search, Bedford’s new fire chief is coming from southern California.

Bill Walker, 53, the fire chief in Santa Monica, starts his new job on June 14.

Former chief Sean Fay left the department in February, City Manager Jimmy Stathatos said.

Walker said he visits Texas frequently as his son just graduated from Southern Methodist University, and his daughter is attending nursing school at Texas Christian University.

“My kids love it; and they want to stay here,” he said.

When his children decided to stay in Texas, Walker said he started looking around at job possibilities, and Bedford “was a good fit.”

Walker said Bedford is similar to other cities where he worked including Fountain Valley, where he worked his way up through the ranks starting out as a firefighter. There are around 50,000 people in the city and a freeway runs through the middle.

Walker said he was also impressed with Stathatos.

Stathatos said he chose Walker from 34 candidates because of his enthusiasm and willingness to lead.

“He is like a fire encyclopedia. You could tell that he is very enthusiastic,” Stathatos said.

“He is going to be a team player, and I think he will be a great mentor for our staff,” Stathatos said. One of Walker’s strong points is bringing in new technology to help run the fire department more efficiently.

Walker formed a partnership with UCLA Medical Center to establish a mobile stroke unit, according to a news release.

He also oversaw building a $32 million fire station and established another on the beach to better serve the tourists and visitors.

He also managed a “seismic retrofit” of a fire station, meaning the building could withstand an earthquake.

Chief Walker started out as a private EMT and paramedic before he was hired by the Fountain Valley Fire Department in Orange County, California in 1991. There he rose through the ranks and was promoted to Fire Chief in 2006. After serving as Chief in Fountain Valley for five years, he became fire chief in Alhambra, California. During his time in Alhambra, he was elected to the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association board and served as president in 2016.

Walker has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Southern California. He has also graduated from the FEMA Emergency Management Institute’s National Emergency Management Advanced Academy.