Chief & Staff Biographies
Jason Nee - Fire Chief
Fire Chief Jason Nee has been with Central Fire District since 1999 (Then known as Central Fire Protection District.) He previously served the City of Watsonville as a Firefighter. During his time at Central Fire, Chief Nee has held the positions of Paid Call Firefighter, Firefighter/Paramedic, Captain, Battalion Chief and Assistant Fire Chief. His formal education includes an Associate Degree in Fire Protection Technology from Cabrillo College and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara. He is also a California State Certified Fire Officer and Chief Officer.
Anthony Cefaloni - Assistant Fire Chief
Assistant Chief Cefaloni has held the positions of Firefighter Paramedic, Captain, Battalion Chief, and Division Chief, most recently overseeing our Logistics Division. Chief Cefaloni has managed the radios and communications systems for Central Fire District (previously Central FPD) since 2000. He holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Management and an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection Technology. He is a state certified Fire Officer and state certified Chief Officer. Chief Cefaloni started in the fire service in 1986 with the Santa Cruz County Fire Department and has worked for Cal Fire and Pacific Grove Fire Department prior to joining Central Fire Protection District. He has also served as a paramedic and ski patrol. He still has strong memories of responding to emergencies the night of and weeks after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.
Scott Vahradian - EMS Chief EMSIA
EMS Chief Scott Vahradian has worked in the EMS field since 1986, and as worked wtih EMSIA for 14 years. Through the EMSIA, he works with multiple fire agencies (including Central Fire District). His oversight includes the EMSIA’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Quality Assurance and Training Programs for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and paramedic personnel; EMSIA’s Continuous Quality Improvement Program; continuing education development and training for EMT and paramedic personnel; and monitoring and evaluating field activities of EMT and paramedic personnel.
EMS Chief Vahradian has a BA degree from UCSC, teaching credentials from San Jose State University, and is licensed as both a Paramedic and Physicians Assistant. He also currently works as a Physicians Assistant with Stanford Medical.
Patrick Winters - Division Chief (Logistics)
Division Chief Patrick Winters joined the Central Fire District (as part of Central Fire Protection District) in 1999. Since then, he has filled the position of Reserve Firefighter, Firefighter, Firefighter/Paramedic, Fire Captain, and Battalion Chief, and most recently serving as the Division Chief overseeing Logistics for the District. He has been an active member of Central Fire’s Surf Rescue Team and the Santa Cruz County Hazardous Materials Team. His educational background includes an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science, California State certified Fire Officer and Chief Officer. Patrick Winters has been a resident of Santa Cruz County his entire life and is proud to serve the community he grew up in and has raised his family.
Nigel Miller - Division Chief (Operations)
Division Chief Nigel Miller began his career in the fire service in 2005 as a Volunteer Firefighter with Branciforte Fire District. He was later hired by Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District in 2008 as a Firefighter Paramedic, and then promoted to Captain. When Aptos/La Selva and Central FPD consolidated into Central Fire District, he continued to serve as a Captain until his promotion to Probationary Battalion Chief in May of 2022. He was promoted to Division Chief of Operations in November 2023.
BC Miller has an Associate Degree in Fire Technology from Allan Hancock College, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from UC San Diego, and is a Certified Fire Officer.
Derek Staley - Battalion Chief A Shift
Battalion Chief Derek Staley began his career with Central FPD as a Paid Call Firefighter. In 1998 he became a full time Firefighter Paramedic, then Captain in 2008. He formerly served as a Training Captain for Central Fire District, before his promotion to Battalion Chief in 2023. Battalion Chief Staley has an Associate Degree in Fire Science from Cabrillo College.
Ernst Bauen - Battalion Chief B Shift
Battalion Chief Ernst Bauen began with Central Fire Protection District as a Paid Call Firefighter in December of 2003, became a full time Firefighter/Paramedic in 2006, then Fire Captain in 2016. He was promoted to Battalion Chief in December of 2023. He has an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from Cabrillo College, and has been a vital part of the Aquatic Rescue Response Team.
Ryan Peters - Battalion Chief C Shift
Battalion Chief Ryan Peters began his career with the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District in October of 2000. During his time at Aptos/La Selva FPD, he served as a Firefighter/Paramedic, then Captain, and was promoted to Battalion Chief shortly before the final consolidation of Aptos/La Selva and Central FPD's. He has been an active leader in community relations, helping to organize County Fire & EMS personnel for a number of charity programs, and has been a liaison to the public for various current events. He currently coordinates EMS services with the District.
Mike DeMars - Fire Marshal
Fire Marshal Mike DeMars began his career in the fire service in 1988 as a Paid-Call Firefighter with Central Fire Protection District. Since then he has been employed as a full time Firefighter first with the Lockheed Fire Department in Sunnyvale, California and then with Central Fire Protection District. In 2000 he transferred into the Fire Prevention Division at Central Fire Protection District as a Fire Inspector. He was promoted to the position of Fire Marshal in 2016. As the Fire Marshal, Mike is responsible for managing the Community Risk Reduction Division. This includes supervising fire inspections of new and existing buildings, investigation of fire causes, review of construction plans, and public fire safety education. He is a state certified Fire Prevention Officer, Public Education Officer, Fire Investigator and serves the District as its Public Information Officer. Mike is a member of the Northern California Fire Prevention Officers Association and serves on the Public Education Committee. He has an AS degree in Fire Technology. Prior to his career in the fire service, Chief DeMars served for eight years in the U.S. Coast Guard. During his Coast Guard service, he was trained as a shipboard firefighting instructor.
Nancy Dannhauser - Finance Director
Nancy Dannhauser has been with the Central Fire District since June 2015 (originally as part of Central Fire Protection District). Prior to joining the District she worked in the private sector where she held various roles as Senior Finance Analyst, Portfolio Manager and Finance Manager. As a finance professional with 10+ years of experience in financial planning, analysis, budgeting and reporting, she possesses a Masters in Finance as well as a Bachelors in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. She currently oversees the District’s Finance Division which is responsible for general accounting services, budget development, annual audit and financial planning. She is also responsible for the District’s Computer Network Administration, involving system upgrades, enhancements and implementation of new technology. She is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO). She also currently serves as a budget reviewer for the GFOA budget awards program.
Gena Finch - Human Resources Director
Joining the District in December 2015 (then as part of Central Fire Protection District), Gena came to us from the County of Santa Cruz where she specialized in Workers Compensation and payroll for over 18 years. She oversees the Human Resources division which is responsible for the recruitment and hiring of new staff, payroll, employee benefits and risk management. In addition, Gena handles all Public Records Act requests, and Board agendas. She is a member of the California Public Employers Labor Relations Association (CALPELRA), the Public Agency Risk Management Association (PARMA), and is an International Public Management Association for Human Resources Senior Certified Professional.