Fire Chief David LaFave
Chief LaFave began his fire service career with Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue as a volunteer in March 1983. He was hired full time as a firefighter in March 1986 and served in operations for most of his career. In 1993, he was promoted to Deputy Chief of Operations until November 2000 when he was promoted to his current position as Fire Chief.
His educational background includes an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Fire Protection from Portland Community College, a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and Completion of the NWCG Performance Based Training for qualification as a National Type 1 Incident Commander. He has been involved in the management of various types of emergencies including floods, landslides, major hazmat events, natural gas pipeline explosions, hurricanes, volcano and wildfires with assignments throughout the US. Chief LaFave is involved with many boards and committees including the Board for the Washington Fire Chiefs Association. He holds and maintains numerous certifications and instructor endorsements for both NWCG and USFA NIMS training. He also provides presentations related to leadership and organizational development nationally.
Chief LaFave is married and has three grown children. He enjoys riding his motorcycle, hunting, military history, raising cattle and working with heavy equipment.
Deputy Chief Becky Ribelin
Deputy Chief Ribelin graduated from LCC Nursing School in 1978 and worked for 30 years as an RN at the local hospital. 23 of those 30 years were spent in the emergency department. This is where she established her niche in emergency medicine and also met many of the people that she would later work with at Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Linfield College in 1998. It was at this point that she decided to expand her career and apply for employment outside the hospital. She was hired by the district in 1999 as the EMS Administrator and was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2013. She oversees the ALS ambulance transport program which includes 2,500 patient transports per year.
Chief Ribelin is an AHA BLS and an AHA ACLS instructor since 2001. She also is a Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) Instructor as well as a Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) through the ENA. She serves on the Cowlitz County EMS & Trauma Care Council.
Deputy Chief Jason Sanders
BC Sanders began with Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue as an intern in 1996 and was hired full time in March of 2003. After several years as a firefighter, he was promoted to lieutenant in 2009. He was promoted to battalion chief in 2019. July 2020, he was promoted to Deputy Chief, and oversees department operations.
Outside of work, BC Sanders enjoys spending time with his wife Becky, their daughters, Kayla and Nora, and their mini Australian Shepherd Olive. He also enjoys golf and playing cornhole.
Financial Analyst / Office Manager
Financial Analyst Ballinger has been with Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue since 1999. She started as a work study student through LCC and was hired full time shortly thereafter. She has earned two degrees, one in Business Administration and another in Accounting. She is currently the Financial Analyst/Office Manager for the district supervising the department’s admin support specialists, handling all aspects of the budget process, investments, payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, auditing and all financial oversight in general.
Brandi is also a National Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, earning this certification in 2001. She has been nationally recognized for her work in creating a safer community by ensuring children are traveling as safe as possible in a vehicle. She serves on the Safe Kids Executive Board as the Vice-Chair and began her involvement with them in 2001. She has not missed a single monthly car seat clinic since 2005.
Battalion Chief James Graham
BC Graham started his career as an intern firefighter with Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue in 1997. He has served the district in a multitude of positions including driver operator, deputy fire marshal, captain and battalion chief. He is currently assigned as the BC on B shift.
Away from work, James spends time on his farm with wife Catie and children Keeley and Gannon. He also enjoys time on his motorcycle, hunting and bowling.
Battalion Chief Joe Tone
BC Tone started his fire service career in 1998 as a fire cadet with Clark County Fire District 11. In 2000 he went to Woodland Fire Department where he served in nearly all operational and administrative roles including the City’s Fire Marshal and Interim Fire Chief. In 2010 he Joined Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue where he has worked in operations and serves on the department’s hazmat response team. He currently serves as the BC on C shift overseeing shift operations and provides oversight for our district’s maintenance division and apparatus purchasing. His educational background includes Lower Columbia College and the National Fire academy. He also serves as an Operations Branch Director on a Pacific NW Type 1 incident management team. His experience in incident management has taken him to multiple states to help manage disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes, hazmat events and volcanic eruptions.
He lives in Woodland with his daughter Kensli. They enjoy nearly everything outdoors and traveling.
Battalion Chief Bert Thayer
BC Thayer began his career with Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue in May 1994 as a Firefighter/Paramedic, working his way up through the ranks to Battalion Chief. Bert came to the district with previous EMS, volunteer, wildland and teaching experience. Bert graduated from Oregon Health Sciences University Advanced Paramedic Program, returning to his alma mater as a part time instructor. Bert has also taught at University of California Davis Medical and Trauma Center, Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital, Lower Columbia College and Peace Health St John Medical Center. He has worked through the NWCG 310-1 qualification system from Firefighter II to Operations Section Chief having become an instructor at each level. Bert has been deployed to incidents in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Colorado and Nebraska. He is a regional hazmat team leader and is the hazmat coordinator for our team. He is currently assigned as the BC on A shift.
He and his wife Lynn have four children, Jon, Guy, Brant and Jillian and one granddaughter Allison. He enjoys spending “papa” time with Allie and being outdoors flying, boating, ATV riding and SCUBA diving.
Battalion Chief David Cooper
BC Cooper started his membership at Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue in 1997 as a high school Cadet during his senior year at Kelso High School. After graduation, he completed an internship and obtained his EMT certification. He graduated from Lower Columbia College in 2003 with an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science and also worked as a seasonal wildland firefighter. He attended Northwest Regional Training Center’s Paramedic program in Vancouver, Washington obtaining his National Paramedic certification in 2006. He started his full time career with Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue in March of 2006. He has worked as a Paramedic, Firefighter, Driver Operator, Shift Lieutenant, SWAT Paramedic, Training Specialist, and Fire Investigator. He also has assisted in instructing the high school Cadet Program as a Career and Technical Educator and instructed at Lower Columbia College’s Fire Science Program. He also has a passion for wildland firefighting and is currently a Strike Team Leader/ Task Force Leader. He was promoted to battalion chief in July of 2020. He is currently assigned to the Planning Section, and provides oversight for training, logistics, fire marshal duties, fire and life safety, health and safety and volunteer coordination.
Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his wife Holly and daughter Sage. He and his wife manage their 20 acre animal rescue with 40 plus various animals to include a dog, cats, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys and ducks. He also volunteers as a White Pass Ski Patrol Paramedic and enjoys gallivanting around the region with other firefighters on his Harley.