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.

Jake Hess, Deputy Chief

Image of Jake Hess to comeChief Hess began his career with the Santa Cruz County Fire Department in September of 1995 as a Sleeper Firefighter at Corralitos Fire Station. In 1996 he was hired by CDF San Benito/Monterey Unit as a Firefighter I at the Aromas FFS. In 1999 he promoted to FFII at the Cypress Fire Protection District, Rio Road Station. In 2000, he promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer at the King City FFS. As a company officer in BEU, he was assigned to Schedule A, Schedule B, Truck Company, Water Rescue Operations, and Physical Fitness Coordinator and was the first state employee to be assigned to the Carmel Highlands Fire Protection District contract. While working for CAL FIRE, Jake has served as a Fire Apparatus Engineer, Fire Captain “A” & “B”, Battalion Chief, Division Chief and now Deputy Chief.

In 2003 he accepted a position as a Lateral Firefighter Operator with the Seaside City Fire Department. In 2005 he returned to CDF as a company officer and accepted a Fire Captain position at the Ben Lomond Conservation Camp. In 2006 he logged over 1500 fire hours with BNL Crew 3. In 2008 he accepted a position as a Fire Captain Specialist Training Officer with CZU Training.

In July of 2009 he promoted to Battalion Chief of the CZU Training Battalion. In 2011 he accepted a transfer to the Corralitos field Battalion. He has logged over 100 career Strike Teams deployments with 40 of those as the Strike Team Leader. He was the initial attack Incident Commander on the 2012 Ponderosa Fire in TGU. He earned 7 gold medals in road cycling while representing CDF at the California Firefighter Olympics and the World Police and Firefighter Games in Barcelona Spain. He earned an Associates of Science in Fire Science from Cabrillo College and is working on a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies from National University in San Jose. He has lived in Santa Cruz County since 1982 and currently resides in Live Oak with his wife Jess and daughter Olivia.

Nick Casci, Assistant Chief - Administration

Nick CasciChief Casci began his career in the fire service as a Volunteer Firefighter with the Nevada City Fire Department in 1998, promoted to the rank of Volunteer Engineer, and then to Volunteer Fire Captain in 2003. Simultaneously, Nick began his career with CAL FIRE in the Nevada Yuba Placer Unit (NEU) as a Seasonal Firefighter I at the Higgins Fire Station in 2000. In 2003, he promoted to Limited Term Fire Apparatus Engineer (FAE) in NEU at the Columbia Hill Fire Station and then to a permanent FAE at NEU Marysville Fire Department in 2006. In 2008, he promoted to a permanent Fire Captain in the Tuolumne Calaveras Unit (TCU) at San Andreas Headquarters, a Battalion Chief in the TCU West Point Battalion in 2012, and then transferred to the San Andreas Headquarters Battalion in 2013.

Nick holds a Vocational Certificate in Fire Technology from Alan Hancock College and was a member of TCU's S-212, Flashover Recognition, and Survival Cadres. Nick has also served as a unit Physical Fitness Coordinator and was integral to implementation of the unit's ISELINK scheduling program in TCU. He is a Hazardous Materials Specialist and had oversight of CAL FIRE's participation in the Calaveras County Hazardous Materials Team (CCHMT). He supervised and assisted with the development of TCU's Terra Torch program and was a member of the Training Advisory Work Group (TWAG) for the statewide curriculum development for the use of Terra Torch. He has also worked extensively with Fire Safe Councils in the development of fuel reduction and Vegetation Management Projects (VMP) in his prior battalions.

Nick has served as a member of CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 2 since January 2017, where he acts as an Operations Branch Director. He is certified as an Operations Section Chief Type 1 Trainee and qualified as an Operations Branch Director, Division Group Supervisor, Strike Team Leader Engines, and a Dozer Boss. Chief Casci was appointed as Assistant Chief, Administration to the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit (CZU) effective June 12, 2017.

Robert Sherman, Assistant Chief - Ben Lomond Fire Camp

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.

Paul Cole, Assistant Chief - Coastside Division

Paul Cole Assistant Chief Coastside DivisionVeteran Fire Chief and Chief Officer with an effective track record in fire suppression, fire prevention, emergency medical services, and rescue operations. Fully credentialed in structural and wildfire firefighting. Executive administrator with policy, procedure, and program development experience; dedicated to keeping apprised of industry trends and best practices.
Politically astute relationship manager, successful at establishing productive, long-term relationships with governmental agencies. Skilled in leading teams and managing material resources in hazardous, wear-intensive environments. Qualified trainer and advocate for continuing skills.

Direct four Battalion Chiefs, 30+ fire station personnel, and 25+ volunteers while maintaining the highest levels of excellence in safety and effectiveness. Select, train, lead, and evaluate personnel. Establish policies, priorities, and goals while strategically managing finances and resources. Assume command during fire suppression, rescue, HazMat, and emergency/disaster response situations. Drive success of structural and wildland fire operations, paramedic program, special operations, rescue services, training, and prevention/protection planning. Steer Fire Branch through joint Coastal Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) emergencies/exercises.

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.

Mark Steward, Assistant Chief - San Mateo Division

Mark Steward Assistant Chief San Mateo DivisionMark started his career as a Seasonal firefighter at Belmont Station in 1983 and went on to work 10 seasons in San Mateo/Santa Cruz Unit and Butte Unit. In 1992 make left CDF and went to work for the Baystar Ambulance (now AMR) in San Mateo County as an EMT eventually becoming a Paramedic. Mark returned to CAL FIRE in 1998 as a Fire Apparatus Engineer Paramedic in San Mateo County in Battalion 1, ultimately promoting to Fire Captain Paramedic. Mark also served as the Paramedic Supervisor during this time. In 2005 Mark transferred to Tuolumne/Calaveras Unit and in 2010 promoted to Battalion Chief in Mendocino Unit

Mark was a member of Incident Management Team 8 and was an instructor on the Incinet Cadre.

Mark lives in Redwood City where he was born and raised. Mark is married and has 2 young boys.

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.



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