Chief & Staff Biographies
John Walbridge - Fire Chief
Fire Chief Walbridge’s first contact and subsequent interest in the Fire Service started in the late 1970’s when he was tasked by his father to ride his bike to Live Oak Fire Station #1 on 17th Avenue to retrieve burn permits from firefighters that he would ultimately work with over ten years later.
Fire Chief Walbridge began his professional career in the fire service in 1990 as a Seasonal Firefighter with Cal Fire. In 1991 he began with the Central Fire Protection District as a Paid Call Firefighter. Since that initial appointment Chief Walbridge has held the positions of Firefighter, Firefighter/Paramedic, Captain Paramedic, Battalion Chief, Temporary Division Chief and Fire Chief. Chief Walbridge was one of Central Fire Protection District’s first three (3) Firefighter/Paramedics. Chief Walbridge’s past responsibilities have included Logistics Chief, Operations Chief, Safety Officer, Central Fire Investigation Team, Emergency Response Coordinator, Emergency Medical Services Manager, and Facilities/Inventory Manager. Chief Walbridge holds an Associate Degree in Fire Protection Technology from Cabrillo College and a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry from UCSC. He is also a California State Certified Fire Investigator I, Fire Officer and Chief Officer.
Jason Nee - Assistant Fire Chief
Assistant Fire Chief Jason Nee has been with Central Fire Protection District since 1999. He previously served the City of Watsonville as a Firefighter. During his time at Central Fire, Asst. Chief Nee has held the positions of Paid-Call Firefighter, Firefighter/ Paramedic, Captain and Battalion 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.
Scott Cullen - Division Chief Operations
Division Chief Cullen began his career with the District in June of 1989. He began as a Firefighter, then Captain, before his promotion to Division Chief. He has overseen such projects as Apparatus purchasing, mobile communications upgrades and other operational needs. He currently oversees Operations for both Aptos/La Selva and Central Fire Protection District, as part of a Shared Services agreement.
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 Aptos/La Selva and Central FPD's). 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.
Anthony Cefaloni - Division Chief
Division Chief Cefaloni oversees Logistics/Fleet and Support services. He has held the positions of Firefighter Paramedic, Captain and Battalion Chief. Chief Cefaloni has managed the radios and communications systems for Central Fire Protection District 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.
Patrick Winters - Battalion Chief A Shift
Battalion Chief Patrick Winters joined the Central Fire District in 1999. Since then, he has filled the position of Reserve Firefighter, Firefighter, Firefighter/Paramedic, Fire Captain, and Battalion Chief. He is currently assigned to the Operations Division on A Shift. He is 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.
Mike Kretsch - Battalion Chief B Shift
Battalion Chief Mike Kretsch started his emergency response career in Santa Cruz county in 1987, as a State Parks Lifeguard at Manresa State Beach. Between 1988 and 1994, he gained experience as an EMT, Firefighter and Firefighter/Paramedic, until applying to the Aptos/La Selva FPD in 1997. It was here that his career flourished as he took on numerous responsibilities, working his way up to Captain, then shortly after the consolidation with Central Fire, was promoted to his current position as Battalion Chief.
BC Kretsch has taken a number of Fire Science courses and played a key part in running/overseeing the Aquatic Rescue Response Team for the District. He took an active role in Public Education and outreach at such events as the annual Open House, Firefighters Pancake Breakfast and instructing community CPR Classes. He also served as the first Vice President of newly united Central Fire firefighters union, Local 3605. When asked about his career with Central FD, BC Kretsch says “I am honored to protect family and friends in the community where I was raised.”
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.
Chad Akin - Battalion Chief Training
Battalion Chief Chad Akin has been with the Central Fire Protection District since 1991, and continued on with the new consolidated Central Fire District in February of 2021. He previously served as a Captain with the Central Fire Protection District. His primary oversight includes Training & Safety for the District.
Mike DeMars - Fire Marshal
Fire Marshal 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 Fire Prevention 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.
Marco Mack - Deputy Fire Marshal
Deputy Fire Marshal - Marco Mack joined the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District in September 2019. He started his fire service career in 1980 and he brings experience as a fire ground commander with specialty skills in emergency management, hazardous materials response, community risk reduction, wildfire response, and wildfire risk mitigation. He is an ICC Certified Fire Marshal and a Certified Building Official. He is working to become an NFPA Certified Wildfire Mitigation Specialist.
Marco Mack served 23 years as a Fire Captain with Orange County Fire Authority where he responded to more than 100 wildfires in California, including the Indian Fire, Laguna Fire (Laguna Beach), Cedar Fire, Freeway Complex Fire, and numerous fires in Malibu/Los Angeles area. At these fires, his assignment included providing structure protection for the affected homes.
Nancy Dannhauser - Finance Director
Nancy Dannhauser has been with the Central Fire Protection District since June 2015. 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 Central Fire in December 2015, 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.