Command Staff
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Troy Hughes
Fire Chief

Picture of Chief Troy HughesFire Chief Troy Hughes was born and raised on the plains of Nebraska.  His family was involved in farming, ranching, and several were associated with the railroad.  Troy’s fire service career started in 1985 as a firefighter/EMT-B with the Grand Island Fire Department.  Troy steadily rose through the ranks to achieve captain in 1992, division chief in 1998, and ultimately the fire chief in 2008.   Troy was appointed to lead Los Alamos Fire Department in October of 2011.  He has long desired to live in an area like Los Alamos.  Troy has fond childhood memories of visits to family in Northern New Mexico and in the Colorado mountains.  Troy enjoys many outdoor activities like hiking, bike riding, motorcycle riding, and camping.   Troy’s educational achievements include an A.A.S. in Fire Protection Technology, a B.A. in Public Administration, and a M.A. in Management with a Leadership Emphasis.  Troy graduated Summa Cum Laude and was named the “Outstanding Graduate in the Public Administration Program” while completing his B.A. from Doane University.  He is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.  Troy is currently enrolled in Center for Homeland Defense and Security Program at the Naval Postgraduate School.  He will complete this Master’s in Homeland Security Program in December 2017.   Troy is one of less than 1000 fire service professionals in the United States that hold a Chief Fire Officer designation from the Commission on Professional Credentialing.  Troy has completed the Leadership New Mexico Core and State and Local Government programs.  He has also completed the Leadership Los Alamos Program, the FBI Citizens Academy, and the Los Alamos County Leadership Academy.  Troy is very involved in his community.  He is a board member for the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation and United Way of Northern New Mexico.  He is the past president of the Los Alamos Public Safety Officers Association, is the past president of the Los Alamos Rotary Club, and served as the treasurer for the Los Alamos Committee for Higher Education.  He is a perpetual member of the Los Alamos Chapter of the Military Order of World Wars and lifetime alumni member of Leadership New Mexico.   Troy’s wife, Jodi, is a first grade teacher at Pinon elementary school.  Troy and Jodi have two adult children.  Their son, Michael, is a railroad engineer in Denver, Colorado and their daughter Kaylea is a police detective in Aurora, Illinois. Their grandchildren include Emma, Liam, and Benson. 

Steven Dawald
Deputy Chief

Deputy Chief Steve DawaldDeputy Chief Steve Dawald grew up in southern California and graduated from Arcadia High School. He holds two Associate’s Degrees – one in Fire Protection Technology and one in Emergency Medical Services. His Bachelor’s degree is in Occupational Education (Eastern New Mexico University) and his Master’s degree is in Public Administration (Arkansas State University). Steve began his firefighting career in 1989 as a fire explorer with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and became an EMT in 1990. During his college years, he worked for a private ambulance service and then in the mid-90s, volunteered for three local fire departments and attended paramedic training. These experiences solidified his interest and desire in becoming a full-time firefighter/paramedic - which led to his joining the LAFD in December of 1998. He quickly promoted to the rank of Driver Engineer in May of 2003 and Captain in July of 2005. He acted as an Operations Battalion Chief for eight months prior to his promotion to Battalion Chief in February of 2012. Steve holds numerous certifications including: Paramedic, Fire Officer 1, 2, and 3, Fire Instructor 1, 2, and 3, and hazardous materials technician & team member. He was also a member of the Technical Rescue Team and vehicle committee for many years.He is an EMS Instructor/Coordinator and is certified to teach CPR, ACLS, and PALS. Steve is also the Fire Science and EMS Program Co-Chair for the University of New Mexico - Los Alamos campus.Steve was recently accepted into the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program which should be completed in 2020. When asked what his career highlights are, Steve’s response was “Every day that I come to work is a highlight. Loving what I do for a living and learning something new every day is a highlight. I love watching and helping others grow and develop and take great pride in seeing them reach their goals. Fighting fires and taking care of sick patients is rewarding, but the best part of all is working with a great group of people that would do anything for each other.” Steve is married to Melanie and they have a daughter named Cady. They enjoy spending time outdoors in the Jemez Mountains together with family and friends. They currently live in Rio Rancho and plan to move back to Los Alamos in the near future.

Wendy Servey
Division Chief (Fire and Life Safety/Fire Marshal)

Division Chief Wendy Servey
Division Chief Wendy Servey
 was raised in a Northeast Ohio suburb just outside of Cleveland. The youngest of four children, Wendy received the gentle encouragement from her mother to pursue a public service career that exemplified kindness, compassion and hard work and from her father she gained strength, determination and perseverance. After her first degree in computer graphic design and spending several years in the corporate environment, Wendy started taking community college courses at night in the fire and EMS. She got her first job in public service as a city paramedic for Cleveland EMS. Competition was fierce for a fire career in Ohio, but she eventually earned a place at Coventry Fire in Akron. She was actually the first female fire medic to be hired in Akron and it made the local papers. She spent 7 years there and decided that the Land of Enchantment may offer more than just a fire career. In New Mexico, Wendy first worked for Santa Fe County as firefighter/ paramedic for two years before applying to Los Alamos. After completing her third Academy in 2006, she quickly promoted to Captain in 2009 and Battalion Chief in 2014. She was a recipient of scholarship to attend Tampa 2 Life Safety Summit in Florida in 2014; and has attended courses at the National Fire Academy in Baltimore. Wendy recently completed a Health and Safety certification course in Phoenix and had the opportunity to liaise with other Safety Officers across the country. Wendy's partner Liz is a Registered Nurse in Albuquerque, and they've recently discovered the RV life and have an acquired a small travel trailer. When they are not camping, they both volunteer for a local Fire/ EMS department in their home community.

Kelly Sterna
Division Chief (Wildland)

Chief Kelly Sterna

Division Chief Kelly Sterna was born and raised in Deadwood, SD and graduated from Lead-Deadwood High School. Kelly was very involved in sports, playing Football and Basketball for the High School. 

After High School, Kelly attended South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, SD. He currently is completing an Associate’s degree in Fire Science at Central New Mexico in addition to pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Emergency Management from Frederick Community College. Kelly was a volunteer with Red River Fire Department for 4 years prior to coming to LAFD primarily as a wildland firefighter. Kelly holds NWCG certifications for Engine Boss, Helicopter Crew member and Wildland Communications Technician. In March of 2005, Kelly was hired by the Los Alamos Fire Department.

During his 12 years at Los Alamos Fire Department Kelly has held the ranks of Firefighter I and II, Driver Engineer, Fire Captain, and Division Chief. He was also part of the Technical Rescue Team, Shift Training Team, SCBA team, and Communication team. Kelly has a daughter, Daryon, who is pursuing a law degree at UT-Austin.

Kelly describes the highlights of his career as mentoring other members, and making a positive change on a daily basis.

Kelly currently resides in Santa Fe. Kelly enjoys spending time with his family and friends, snowboarding, hiking, and is an avid sports fan.

James Thwaits

Division Chief (Training)

Picture of Chief Thwaits

Division Chief James Thwaits was born in Albuquerque, NM and moved to Los Alamos in 1985 where he lived until 1989 when he moved to Colorado.  After graduating High School, James proudly served in the United States Marine Corps.  He joined the Los Alamos Fire Department in 2006.  James has climbed the ranks from Fire Fighter, Driver Engineer,  Captain, to his current position as the Division Chief of Safety.  He has been part of the LAFD Technical Rescue Team, HAZMAT team, SCBA Team, Communications Team, Bike Team and most recently was LAFD’s Training Captain.  James currently has an A.A.S in Fire Science and is working on his Bachelor’s degree.  James lives in White Rock with his wife, Katie, and their youngest daughter, Kailey; their oldest daughter, Kelsey, is currently attending law school at William and Mary Law in Virginia.

Joseph Baca
Division Chief (Safety)
Division Chief Joseph Baca 
was born and raised in Northern New Mexico and graduated from Escalante High School.  He attended Adams State University in Colorado where he received his Associate of Science Degree and then moved to Albuquerque to work and continue his education. 
Joseph joined the Los Alamos Fire Department in 1997 where he has served in the ranks of Firefighter, Driver Engineer, Captain, as the Acting Safety Division Chief and Training Captain.  He became a paramedic in 2003 and has been a part of several specialty teams such as; Public Education, Technical Rescue, and Haz-Mat.

Joseph currently lives on the family ranch in Northern New Mexico, (Canjilon) with his wife Loretta and two daughters Marissa and Elyssa, both honor students at Escalante High School. His son Ryan, who is also a member of the Los Alamos Fire Department, and his wife Sandra have blessed Joseph with three grandchildren; Isabella, Allie, and Ryder.

Benjamin Stone
Division Chief (EMS)

Battalion Chief Benjamin Stone
Battalion Chief Benjamin Stone
 was born on the Ft. Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas and traveled the United States during his childhood, eventually graduating High School in Syracuse NY. Following his roots, he was always close to public safety, his dad was an Army Military Police Officer and his uncle was the Fire Chief for Lakewood Fire Department, in the early 80s. Ben started his fire service career in 2000 with the Warner’s Hose Company and the Tully Hose Company as a volunteer while working for E-One Emergency Service Manufacturer building response vehicles. Ben joined LAFD as a Firefighter in 2003, and in that time, he has been very active serving emergency services as a National Registry Representative, Certified Instructor Coordinator for the University of New Mexico, Hazardous Materials Technician, Rope Rescue Technician, Wildland Fire Investigator, and an active instructor in the department’s Fire Recruit academies.. In 2009, Ben was promoted to Driver Engineer, in 2010 to Captain, in 2013 to Battalion Chief, and in 2014, he was assigned to Division Chief of EMS. Ben is active in several committees across the country, serving as a member of the NorthernRegional Trauma Advisory Council, Medical Advisory Committee, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of EMS Chiefs, Los Alamos Public Safety Officer’s Association, and he currently serves as the Vice-President of the New Mexico EMS Educators Association. Ben’s educational achievements include an Associates of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Fire Science, an AAS in Paramedicine, and Bachelor of Science degree in Paramedicine with a Fire Science Minor. Ben graduated with a 4.0 GPA and is a member or the Honors Society. Ben is now pursuing his Masters of Science in Leadership from Grand Canyon University.Ben is one of only 120 fire service professionals in the World that hold a Chief Emergency Medical Services Officer designation from the Commission on Professional Credentialing. Ben describes the highlight of his career as the ability to work with such a professional and caring group of people. Ben is happily married to his wife of 9 years, Deborah. They have two daughters, Izzabel and Samantha. In his spare time, Ben stays busy with gymnastics classes for his daughters, cycling, hiking, camping and frequent trips to the Albuquerque Bio Parks


Michael Gill
Division Chief (LANL Training)

This is a picture of Division Chief Gill.

Division Chief Michael Gill
was born and raised in Los Alamos, NM and graduated from Los Alamos High School. Michael was very involved in sports, playing Football, Basketball, and Baseball for the High School.

After High School Michael attended Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO and the University of New Mexico. He eventually went back to Colorado to pursue a Fire Science Degree at Aims College in Greenly, CO. In January of 1999 Michael was hired by the Los Alamos Fire Department.

During his 18 years at Los Alamos Fire Department Michael has held the ranks of Firefighter I and II, Driver Engineer, Fire Captain, Operations Battalion Chief, and Division Chief. He was also part of the Technical Rescue Team, Haz-Mat Team, and Fitness Committee. He is still an active Peer Fitness Trainer and EMT-I. Michael is one of few remaining members that fought Cerro Grande Fire and Los Conches Fire. Along with the Fire Department Michael has also been an active volunteer in the community with local youth sports. He coached baseball at the High School for 17 years starting out as a volunteer coach all the way to Head Varsity Coach for 12 seasons from 2005-2016. Where the team won 8 consecutive District Titles from 2009-2016.

Michael describes the highlights of his career as being in a job that actually has a positive influence on someone’s day or life.

Michael currently resides in White Rock with his beautiful wife Kelly and their 3 wonderful children Mason, Isabelle, and Eli. Michael enjoys watching his children play sports and just spending time with the family when he is not at work.


Steve Saiz
Battalion Chief (A Shift)

Picture of Battalion Chief Steve Saiz
Battalion Chief Steve Saiz
was born and raised in Espanola, NM. Graduated from Pojoaque High School. He now resides in Rio Rancho, NM. Steve Saiz joined LAFD in 2003 as a firefighter/EMT-I. He promoted to Driver/Engineer in 2007. Became a member of the Technical Rescue Team and a custodian of the clothing/PPE. Steve Saiz promoted to Captain in 2009, Training Officer for an academy in 2009, received my A.A.S in Fire Science in 2015 and promoted to Battalion Chief of Operations in July of 2016 and is currently assigned to A-shift.

Jeff Wetteland
Battalion Chief (B Shift)

Division Chief Jeff Wetteland
Battalion Chief Jeff Wetteland
 came to us as a transplant from the Chicago area in 2001. Before joining us he worked as a carpenter, went to college at Southern Illinois University, and enjoyed athletics. Jeff was an avid athlete and sports fan early on and settled on water polo as his competitive sport of choice in high school and college. After college he enjoyed a short career as a carpenter, building and remodeling custom homes in Illinois, and later building log cabins in Colorado. Jeff promoted to Captain in 2009. His career highlights include being a Technical Rescue Team Oversight Member and Instructor, as well as teaching four LAFD Fire Academies. He obtained his Associates in Fire Science in 2013 and in August of 2014 he was promoted to Division Chief/Fire Marshal. Now he enjoys rooting for his hometown sports teams, snowboarding, surfing, traveling, and finding time to spend with his far away family including four nephews (T.J., Tyler, Nathan, and Ian), and two nieces (Kelly and Ana).


Joseph Candelaria

Battalion Chief (C Shift)

Division Chief Joseph CandelariaBattalion Chief Joseph Candelaria  grew up in Sacramento California and the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds dual Associate’s Degrees – an AS in Fire Science and an AS in Emergency Medical Services. He holds dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Occupational Education (Eastern New Mexico University) and Emergency Medical Services (University of New Mexico) and he is scheduled to graduate in spring of 2018 with a Master’s Degree in Organizational Information and Learning Sciences.

Joseph began his firefighting career in 1995 in the US Navy aboard the USS Constellation CV-64 as member of the Fire and Rescue team. He worked as both an aircraft and shipboard firefighter. This experience sparked a passion for emergency services and a strong desire to make emergency services a career. In 1999 after a honorable discharged from the US Navy and he started working on a Fire Science degree and looking for employment with a New Mexico fire department. In 2001 he was hired with the Los Alamos Fire Department. He became a paramedic in 2006, Driver Engineer in 2007, Captain in 2009 and Battalion Chief in 2015. His first assignment was as the Division Chief of Training and is currently assigned as the Operations Battalion Chief in charge of C-Shift.

Joseph holds numerous certifications including: Paramedic, Fire Officer 1, 2, and 3, Fire Instructor 1, 2, and 3, and Technical Rescue. He is an EMS Instructor/Coordinator and is certified to teach CPR, ACLS, and PALS. Joseph is also the Fire Science and EMS Program Co-Chair for the University of New Mexico - Los Alamos campus.  He was recently accepted into the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program which should be completed in 2020.

Joseph is married to Helen Candelaria, and they have three wonderful kids; Alyssa, Joseph and Isabella. He enjoys time with the family, watching his children participate in their activities and going to school. Joseph currently lives in Placitas, NM.

His two favorite quotes are about learning and breast cancer awareness in loving memory of his mother Julie A. Torres:

Learning quote, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” –Benjamin Franklin

Breast Cancer Awareness, “The goal is to live a full, productive life even with all that ambiguity. No matter what happens, whether the cancer never flares up again or whether you die, the important this is that the days that you have had you will have lived.” – Gilda Radner