Escondido Fire Chief Russ Knowles
Russ Knowles joined the Escondido Fire Department as a Firefighter on February 4th, 1991. In 1999 Russ attended Palomar College’s Paramedic School Program and obtained his certification as a Paramedic and worked as a Firefighter Paramedic for about three years. He was promoted to Fire Captain on January 5th, 2002. While Russ was a fire Captain, he also served as President for the Firefighter’s Association. As President, Russ was involved with the Proposition “P” campaign in 2004. Proposition P, was a Public Facility Bond that was approved by the voters to provide approximately $84 million dollars to build Police Fire Headquarters, rebuild Fire Stations 1 & 3, and build two new fire stations 6 & 7.
Russ was promoted to Battalion Chief on February 24, 2008. As Battalion Chief, Russ was responsible for “C” Division and Fire Department Facilities. Just enough time had passed since Prop P was approved, so that along with the managing the station facilities, Russ was the fire department’s liaison for the construction of fire stations 1, 3, 6 and 7.
Russ was promoted to the position of Division Chief in December of 2009 and Deputy Chief in September 2013. As Deputy Chief, Russ served as the Fire Department Operations Chief. As the Deputy Chief, Russ was responsible for the day-to-day details of running the Department including supervision of three Battalion Chiefs and the Training and EMS Division. In 2010 Russ was placed in the position to oversee the construction of fire station 4. Russ has been an integral part of many innovative changes to increase department efficiencies. On June 4th 2016 Russ was promoted to Fire Chief.
Russ has been on several memorable emergency incidents throughout his career. He was the first fire engine to arrive on scene of the Paramount Fire in January 2007. The Paramount Fire was largest structure fire in Escondido’s history; it engulfed 56 units under construction at Escondido Blvd and Woodward Ave. He’s been on numerous wildland fires over the years, they include the Paradise Fire in 2003, the Witch Fire in 2007, and the Coco’s Fire in 2014 in which he served as Unified Operations and assisted with the Incident Commander as the fire burned in to Escondido. Two other memorable incidents were the infamous Escondido Bomb House and the 60,000 gallon Hazardous Materials spill at the Water Treatment Facility after a tank failed.
Russ is a graduate of the San Diego Regional Training Center Supervisor’s Academy, the Regional Training Center’s Fire Department Executive Development program, and the North County Leadership Program. Russ served as the Chair of the North Zone Operations Chiefs and the North Zone liaison to the San Diego County Operations committee. Currently Russ is the Chair of the North Zone Fire Chiefs Committee and the North Zone Coordinator.
Russ holds an Associate’s Degree in Public Fire Service from Santa Ana College and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Administration from Cogswell Polytechnic College.