Become a Santa Monica Firefighter

Join Us!

Work alongside the fire industry’s leading professionals to serve one of California’s pre-eminent urban coastal communities. The hallmark of the Santa Monica Fire Department is extraordinary customer service and cutting-edge fire and emergency services to 93,000 residents and 8 million visitors annually. In 1974, SMFD became the first fire department in the nation to deliver paramedic services via a fire engine company; today it offers not only fire and paramedic services, but also full-time hazardous materials response, urban search and rescue, and a dedicated airport response unit. The team is constantly evolving to better serve the dynamic Santa Monica community.

We are looking for a diverse set of candidates to apply to join the ranks of SMFD. This page offers details on application requirements, the process and timeline. If you are at the beginning of exploring a career change, this page is also for you. Learn about what it takes to be a part of SMFD and apply during a future recruitment cycle. We encourage people who are transitioning careers to consider the fire service.

Learn more about the Santa Monica Fire Department.

About SMFD

We believe in helping people by preserving and improving the safety, health and wellbeing of our community. We provide collaborative and innovative fire protection, emergency medical care and life safety services. We are committed to service that honors our core values of Integrity, Compassion, Teamwork, Accountability and Trust.

SMFD has five fire stations which house six fire engines and one ladder truck. SMFD responds to structure and wildland fires, medical emergencies, Urban Search and Rescue, Hazardous Materials, and aircraft firefighting calls, and many other kinds of calls.


Candidates must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age at time of appointment.
  • Be a U.S. Citizen, eligible to become a naturalized citizen, or have a legal right to work in the United States.
  • Possess a High School Diploma or GED equivalent.
  • Possess a valid CA driver’s license at time of appointment.
  • Have a valid CPAT within the last 12 months. 
  • A current CPAT test must be completed.
  • Possession of a valid State of California Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-1) Certification or a certification issued by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Candidates who have the following are strongly desired:

  • California Paramedic License
  • Bilingual skills

Learn more about the Firefighter Recruit position.

Recruitment Process

Candidates must meet the minimum qualifications, apply within the application dates, and pass the written test. Those candidates who pass the written test will be selected to conduct an oral interview. The next step is a Chief’s interview. Finally, candidates must pass a psychological exam, a medical exam, and a background check – including a polygraph test. The top candidates are selected from this final pool to join the four-month SMFD fire academy.

Fitness and Training

SMFD accepts two physical agility tests: the CPAT and the Biddle. Both tests aim to simulate actual physical duties of a firefighter at a minimum level.CPAT

The Biddle is offered at the following Southern CA locations: 

Hear from the SMFD Team!

Meet Santa Monica Firefighters Luis Echagarruga and Aurora Skarra-Gallagher. Both have gone through the rigorous process of testing, hiring and training to become fulltime Firefighters with the Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD). But they weren’t always firefighters. We sat down with them to learn more about their backgrounds and what it takes to be a Santa Monica Firefighter.

Question: What made you decide to become a firefighter?

Luis Echagarruga: In 1992, I decided to join the Navy for a few years to save money and get some experience. My plan was to go back east and get into a fire academy in Florida. Finally at my 20-year mark, I decided to chase my dream job. I was blessed by the grace of God to land this job.

Santa Monica Firefighter Luis Echagarruga

Aurora Skarra-Gallagher: Although I really enjoyed being a programmer (I spent 15 years as a software engineer with both a Bachelor's and Master's in Computer Science), I felt there was something more meaningful I could do. I could work all day and night as a software engineer, but I didn't really feel like I was making a difference. I decided on firefighting because the core work is to help people on a daily basis, and it’s a very physical career, which matched my lifestyle.

Q: What’s it like to be a firefighter in Santa Monica?

LE: Outstanding. Every day is unique. Firefighting is not always that life and death struggle to save someone in a smoky room. There are so many other things that we do, from using sophisticated firefighting and rescue equipment to promoting fire safety via talks, advice and training sessions; from inspecting and enforcing safety standards in commercial and residential properties to demonstrating the use of firefighting equipment, performing practice drills, and working with police and ambulance service personnel. I feel very fortunate to have a job as rewarding as firefighting.  

ASG: Santa Monica is special because we have a great relationship with our community. I also feel appreciative every time we catch a glimpse of the Pier, the ocean and the beaches. We are fortunate to work in such a beautiful and active city.

Q: Describe your experience with the hiring process. Was it rigorous?

LE: RIGOROUS it was! You want to prepare in advance and stay that way. I started with the physical ability test. Then I was invited to take the written test. Once I passed, I was invited to an interview. I had multiple visits with different departments, especially Santa Monica. Most of the departments did mock interviews with me, and I studied each city that might become my new home.

Santa Monica Firefighter Aurora Skarra-Gallagher

ASG: It took me four years to get hired. I started by taking Fire and EMT classes at El Camino College. I continued by attending the El Camino Fire Academy, volunteering at the Hermosa Beach Fire Department as an Ambulance Operator/Fire Intern, and finally by attending Daniel Freeman Paramedic school. Physically, I continued my cardiovascular and high intensity interval training routines, and added a heavier weightlifting component. I also trained with fire equipment such as ladders and hoses and using a weight vest to simulate the heavy gear we wear and carry. I joined a program called Fitness for Future Firefighters first as a participant, and then as a mentor. After getting hired, I had to pass a physical, a psychological exam, and a polygraph test before I was admitted to the grueling Santa Monica fire academy, which prepared me for my year as a probationary firefighter. 

Q: Why should people join SMFD?

LE: The Chief and his relationship with the City Manager is paramount. In many communities, without these two understanding the shared need and value, it would be a city without structure. The training is phenomenal. Santa Monica picks the right instructors so that you are prepared before your first day as a probationary firefighter. Lastly is the relationship between you and the firefighters you will be working with for the next 20 to 30 years. You become a family, people you can call brother or sister. You can’t beat it! 

ASG: People should pursue a career at SMFD if they want to work for a class 1 fire department that has high standards and provides diverse opportunities for specialization such as hazardous materials, urban search and rescue, and aircraft rescue, in addition to structural and wildland firefighting. It feels good to be supported by a progressive city, and to take care of its citizens.

Interested in joining SMFD? Learn more about the hiring process at


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