CAL FIRE San Mateo - Santa Cruz Unit Administration

Ian Larkin, Unit Chief

Image of Ian larkin, Deputy ChiefChief Larkin has been in the fire service for 28 years. He started his career in 1988 as Volunteer Fire Fighter with the Salsipuedes Fire Protection District. He began his professional fire service career in 1990 as a Fire Fighter I with (CDF) CAL FIRE in the San Mateo Santa Cruz Unit. In 1991 He accepted a permanent Firefighter /Operator position with the Aromas Tri-County Fire Protection District before returning to CAL FIRE through a cooperative fire protection agreement with the ATCFPD in the San Benito Monterey Unit (BEU). While working for CAL FIRE, Ian has served as a Fire Apparatus Engineer, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief, Deputy Chief, and now Unit Chief.

He has a varied fire service background in both municipal and wildland fire operations and administration. He has completed assignments as an emergency responder on a Type 1 Engine, Truck Company (Quint), Wildland Engine, Emergency Command Center and Training Officer. As a Chief Officer, Ian has worked as a field Battalion Chief, Administrative Division Chief and the Unit Operations Chief. Ian has an extensive training background as an instructor including being a registered instructor with the California State Fire Marshal's office in several fire service disciplines.

He serves as the cadre leader for the CZU Structural Firefighter Survival and RIC Operations courses. Ian served as a Fire Captain Specialist Training Officer for three years.

Chief Larkin has been assigned to a CAL FIRE Incident Command/Management Team (ICT/IMT) for 5 years and is currently assigned to IMT 2 as the Deputy Plans Section Chief. Ian is a qualified as a Strike Team Leader, Division Group Supervisor, Operation Branch Director, Operation Section Chief Type 1, Planning Section Chief Type 1, Incident Commander Type 1 (Trainee) and Agency Rep (Trainee). Ian has experience working in EOC's at a county and department level, in addition to serving as the Area Fire Coordinator for Santa Cruz County.

Rob Sherman, Deputy Chief

CAL FIRE Amador-El Dorado Deputy Chief of OperationsChief Sherman started as a seasonal Firefighter in 1978 and worked 7 seasons, he went to work for the Department of Defense (DOD) where he learned Structural, Shipboard and Crash Rescue Firefighting. In 2000 he returned to CDF were he has held the positions of FPSII, FAE, Fire Captain, Fire Captain Specialist, Battalion Chief and currently is the Division Chief at Ben Lomond Camp.

Nate Armstrong, Assistant Chief - Administration

Nate ArmstrongChief Armstrong began his career in 2001 working for local government and the USFS in Southern California. In 2007 Nate began his career with CAL FIRE in the Riverside Unit, Riverside County Fire Department contract. Nate promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer Paramedic (FAEP) the San Benito-Monterey Unit (BEU) in September 2007. In 2010 he promoted to Fire Captain in BEU where his assignments included working as a Paramedic Fire Captain-EMS coordinator in Schedule A, ECC and Schedule B. In 2015 Nate promoted to Battalion Chief in BEU where his assignments included Unit EMS Coordinator and Schedule A operations in the West Division of BEU, to include the oversight of the Cypress and Carmel Highlands Schedule A contracts on the Monterey Peninsula. He also coordinated the Ocean and Swift-water Rescue Programs and was a member of various committees at the State and local level.

In September 2017, he transferred to San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit (CZU) as operational Battalion Chief 1713 and was promoted to TAU Assistant Chief of Administration on August 31, 2018.

Chief Armstrong holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

VACANT, Assistant Chief - Ben Lomond Fire Camp

Photo Coming Soon

VACANT, Assistant Chief - Coastside Division

Assistant Chief Coastside Division

Rich Sampson, Forester II - Resource Management

Rich Sampson Forester 2 Resource ManagementRichard is a graduate of Humboldt State University with a BS in Forest Production Management and a Minor in Business Administration. Richard has over 18 years of experience in the private timber industry prior to joining CAL FIRE in the San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit in 2002. While in CZU, Richard started as a Forester I, before promoting to Division Chief – Forester II managing the units Forest Practice, Vegetation Management, Pre-fire Engineering and Fire Prevention Programs. In addition, Richard has served as the Acting Forest Manager of Soquel Demonstration State Forest.
Richard is an active CAL FIRE Peace Officer managing investigations in both Forest Practice as well as Wildland Fire cases. Richard has also served as Agency Representative on several incidents.

Jonathan Cox, Assistant Chief - San Mateo Division

Assistant Chief San Mateo DivisionChief Cox started his fire service career as a Paid Call Firefighter and Paid Call Dispatcher with San Luis Obispo County Fire Department at San Luis Obispo Headquarters in 1999 and was later hired by CAL FIRE San Luis Obispo Unit (SLU) in 2001 as a seasonal Firefighter I. In 2006 he promoted to a Limited-Term Fire Apparatus Engineer (FAE) at Nipomo Fire Station and then to a permanent FAE in SLU in 2007. While working as an FAE, Jonathan co-created the Suey Creek pre-attack plan and became qualified as a terra torch operator and assisted in training new Firefighters.

In 2009, he promoted to Fire Captain in CZU.  He worked both Schedule A and Schedule B assignments in San Mateo County and Coastside Fire District. Jonathan spent time assigned to the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services and served as the Unit Public Information Officer while in CZU. 

In 2014, Jonathan transferred and co-established CAL FIRE’s newly created Land Use Planning Program where he assisted with local Bay Area government plans for new developments based on wildfire risks. In 2015 he was promoted to Battalion Chief within the program and spent several years leading the California Northern Region Land Use Planning and Prevention Program under the guidance of the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM). While working in this program, Jonathan helped to build the department’s robust, technology-driven damage inspection program and served on the statewide fire prevention grant review team. Jonathan received a Director’s Award for superior accomplishment for his work in the Land Use Planning Program.

In 2017, Jonathan transferred to Sacramento Communications and worked as a regional (Northern California) Battalion Chief and Public Information Officer. As a spokesperson, Jonathan was responsible for providing timely, accurate and consistent department and incident information to the public and media. He has worked with hundreds of news organizations from throughout the world.

Jonathan is also a member of CAL FIRE's Incident Management Team 6 (FEMA Type 1), where he serves on the command staff in the capacity of Public Information Officer.

He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and a Master’s Degree in Disaster Management from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He has also completed intensive training at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research in Geneva, Switzerland. Jonathan is a State of California (OSFM) certified Chief Officer and registered instructor.

Angela Bernheisel, Forester II - Soquel State Demonstration Forest

Angela Bernheisel, Forester 2 Soquel State Demonstration Forest

Angela has worked for CAL FIRE since 2000 in positions as Forest Practice Inspector and Vegetation Management Program Coordinator in the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit.  Prior to working for CAL FIRE, Angela was a consulting forester with Edward A. Tunheim.  She also worked for the US Forest Service for two seasons as a firefighter in Washington State.
Angela is a California Registered Professional Forester and earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Forest Management from the University of California, Berkeley in 1994.

Ginny Petras, Adminstrative Officer II

Administrative Officer II

Ginny Petras began her career with CAL FIRE in October 2001 as an Office Assistant (OA) in the San Mateo Santa Cruz Unit (CZU) working in the CZU Training office at Felton Headquarters where she coordinated training and documentation for over 200 county volunteers and paid personnel, developed the first CZU Training website, and earned a Superior Accomplishment Team Award. During this time she also completed the Santa Cruz County Volunteer Academy. In 2005, Ginny was re-classified to an Office Technician (OT) position, then transferred in 2007 to the CZU Personnel Office as the unit’s Benefits Officer. This position also performed labor reconciliation, Workers Compensation processing, Respiratory Protection Program oversight, and assisted the Unit Administrative Officer and unit Firefighter I Coordinator with all aspects of hiring.

In January of 2011, Ginny promoted to Staff Service Analyst in CZU at Felton Headquarters and was assigned to the Santa Cruz County Fire Department Schedule “A” Cooperative Agreement. Ginny was responsible for preparing, analyzing and monitoring the County Fire budget including procurement, purchasing, account payables, account receivables, data organization, inventory, and grant management.  She was responsible for the preparation of reports and letters to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisor associated with County Fire Department oversight.  Ginny worked very close with Santa Cruz County staff to keep County Fire operationally sound.  She served as Co-President of the Santa Cruz County Administrative Fire Services Section and was secretary to the County Fire Department’s Fire Department Advisory Commission (FDAC), and the Volunteer Company Officers’ group. She developed and maintained the County Fire Department website as well as other publications related to County Fire. She assisted with the preparation of operational policies and provided review of unit manuals, the County Fire Master Plan, the County Fire Department’s Volunteer Handbook, and provided ongoing analysis of all unit cooperative agreements. 

Ginny holds an Associate’s Degree of Specialized Technology from the National Education Center in Anaheim, California and the following ICS qualifications; Incinet Advisor, Message Center Operator, SART Documentation Specialist, Status Check-in-Incinet Advisor, and Status Check-in Recorder. She is a trainee in the following ICS positions; Call Taker, Critical Incident Stress Debriefer, Documentation Unit Leader, Dispatch Recorder, Support Dispatcher, Equipment Time Recorder, Public Information Officer-Field and Personnel Time Recorder. She was appointed to the CZU Administrative Officer II position effective October 2, 2017.


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