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About the Chief

Nate Armstrong.

New Unit Chief in the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit, effective November 6, 2021

Felton – CAL FIRE Director Thom Porter has appointed Chief Nate Armstrong as the CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz (CZU) Unit Chief effective November 6, 2021. Chief Armstrong replaces Chief Ian Larkin who recently retired after 33 years of service. Chief Armstrong most recently served as CZU’s Deputy Chief of Operations and has 22 years of fire service experience in CAL FIRE operations, paramedic services, training, emergency command centers, administration, and State Incident Command Teams. He now leads the Unit’s 280+ permanent and seasonal staff from CZU Headquarters in Felton, CA across 16 fire stations, 1 CDCR Conservation Camp, 1 State Demonstration Forest and 110 volunteers across 8 additional fire stations that serve and protect the citizens of San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties. As the CZU Unit Chief, Chief Armstrong also serves as Fire Chief through CAL FIRE’s cooperative agreements system for San Mateo County Fire Department, Santa Cruz County Fire Department, the Coastside Fire Protection District and the Pajaro Valley Fire Protection District. More...

Chief Armstrong makes his home in Ben Lomond, CA.

Career Highlights

Chief Armstrong began his fire service career in 1999 as a reserve firefighter for the City of Orange. 
In 2001 he was hired on a Type II hand crew for the Angeles National Forest and continued to work as a reserve firefighter and intern for several local government fire departments until he was hired by the San Bernardino County Fire Department as a Limited Term Firefighter in 2004. There he worked various assignments and was a member of the Urban Search and Rescue and Swiftwater Rescue teams.

In 2007 Chief Armstrong was hired by CAL FIRE as a Firefighter II (Paramedic) in the Riverside Unit. 
Shortly after, he promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer (Paramedic) in the San Benito-Monterey Unit (BEU) and in September 2007 and in 2010 he promoted to LT Fire Captain in the Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit (NEU) returning back to BEU as a Permanent Fire Captain where his assignments included Emergency Command Center and Training Captain/EMS Coordinator. 

In 2015 Chief Armstrong promoted to Battalion Chief in BEU coordinating the Advanced Life Support program and Cooperative Agreement operations in the West Division including oversight of the Cypress and Carmel Highlands contracts on the Monterey Peninsula. In September 2017, Chief Armstrong transferred to San Mateo-Santa Cruz (CZU) Unit Headquarters Battalion as a State Mission operations Battalion Chief and in August 2018, he promoted to Assistant Chief of Administration.
In June of 2020 he promoted again to the Deputy Chief of Operations for CZU; overseeing state operations, Santa Cruz County Fire Department and the Pajaro Valley Fire Protection District. 

Throughout his career Chief Armstrong has sat on numerous committees, working groups, and cadres at the local and statewide levels and currently is a member of CAL FIRE's Supervision Level II cadre. 
He has also been involved in ECC Support Teams and CAL FIRE Incident Management Teams and is currently a Liaison Officer on CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 1 and a Type 1 IC Trainee. 

Chief Armstrong holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Safety Administration and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Cal State University, Dominguez Hills.