Board of Directors

Board of Directors

John Bales, President

John Bales served 18 years as the fire chief for the City of Golden Fire Department until his retirement in October 2018.  He served a total of 50 years in the fire service beginning in 1968 as a volunteer firefighter with the Wichita Kansas Fire Department before moving to Colorado in 1974.  John is a second generation firefighter and his son, Captain Steve Bales of the Denver Fire Department, is a third generation firefighter.

John has served as Past President of both the Colorado Fire Training Officers Association and the Denver Metro Fire Chiefs Association.  He was the Colorado State Director for the Missouri Valley Fire Chiefs Association.  He has served as an adjunct instructor for the National Fire Academy teaching coursework in firefighter safety and survival.  He became a member of the Colorado Fallen Firefighters Foundation in 2018 working to honor all of those firefighters who have and will make the supreme sacrifice.

 Dan H. Qualman, Secretary

Dan Qualman has served as the fire chief of South Metro Fire Rescue Authority since 2008.  Prior to that appointment he served as the fire chief of Parker Fire Protection district from 1986.  A native of Toledo, Ohio, he went to college in Arkansas, worked in the avionics industry in Kansas until his career change to the fire service in 1978.  He served with the Leawood (KS) Fire Department for 5 years before moving to Parker, Colorado. Dan and his family moved to Colorado in 1983 to accept the position of Assistant Chief for Parker Fire Protection District. He became fire chief in 1986 until 2008 when Parker FPD and SMFR consolidated into an Authority.

Dan Qualman has been a member of the Colorado Fallen Firefighters Foundation since its inception except for a short time in the early 2000’s.  He joined the small group in 1989 after being invited to do so by Chief James Etzel of Castlewood Fire Protection District.  The purpose of the small group was to create a memorial that would recognize all firefighters serving their communities within the State of Colorado, wildland or structural firefighters, volunteer or career, or union or non-union affiliation. After serving many hot dogs and pancakes in order to raise funds to build the memorial, in 2000 the group saw the fruition of the many years of planning when the Memorial was finally dedicated. After a couple years absence he rejoined the Foundation and currently serves as secretary.

 Cathy Teter, Treasurer

Cathy is the Director of Compliance and Human Resources for Northglenn Ambulance which is a Colorado non-profit, private ambulance service.  She has been in EMS since she first received her EMT in 1991.   She started as a volunteer with Northglenn Ambulance in 1996.  After 3 years as an EMT, she became a Paramedic in 1999, then worked her way through the ranks from field training officer to a role as a Director with Northglenn Ambulance.

Cathy’s family has a long history in the fire service and she spent 5 years as a volunteer firefighter.  She has spent several years increasing her proficiency in fire related issues, focusing on mass casualty and incident command practices. In 2001, she turned her role of safety officer into a position responsible for all compliance related issues.  In 2017, Cathy attended the Building Warriors PEER Support Academy and is the current PEER Support Coordinator for Northglenn Ambulance. She works with the North Area PEER Support Team assisting other agency members and their families when needed.

Cathy is a Colorado native who enjoys spending time with family, friends, attending baseball games and when time allows gets out to Colorado’s beautiful lakes and paddleboards.   She lives in Commerce City with her husband Ricky a Denver firefighter and their 2 sons, Todd and Aharon.

Mark Carlson, Vice President

Mark Carlson is President of T. Charles Insurance Service and is considered one of the leading authorities on insurance for fire districts.

Mark holds the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Risk Manager (CRM), and Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designations.

The CPCU designation is the most prestigious insurance designation in the insurance industry that gives individuals a strong foundation in risk management of property and casualty exposures.

A native of Colorado, Mark graduated from Santa Clara University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics.   Mark began his career with SAFECO Insurance Company in 1994, left SAFECO for Travelers where he ran a $100,000,000 revenue regional sales department.  He joined T. Charles Wilson Insurance Service in 2004 and became President of the organization in 2009.

Mark is very active within fire community and currently servers on the Governor’s Fire Service Training and Certification Advisory Board..  He and T. Charles Wilson Insurance Service are active in the Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association.

Board Members

 Jerry Rhodes, Board Member

Jerry, a Denver native, wanted to be a firefighter since junior high school.   He has responded to emergency scenes with different groups on a regular basis since 1970s.

He started with the Glendale Fire Dept. in 1974 as a volunteer firefighter.  He worked through the ranks and left Glendale in 1990 as the Asst. Chief.   He moved to Cunningham FPD as the Div. Chief of Training and was appointed to Fire Chief in 1995. In 2018 Cunningham unified with South Metro Fire Rescue and Jerry became the Division Chief of Community Services.

He loves his family and his extended Fire Service Family.  He enjoys teaching firefighter and EMS personnel and serves on multiple boards and committees at a regional, state, and national level including the Board of Directors of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

He feels honored to serve on the Colorado Fallen Firefighters Foundation Board and to have the opportunity to execute the foundation’s mission to honor our fallen, support their family, and prevent future line of duty deaths.

J. Paul Russell, Board Member

Currently Works for South Metro Fire Department in the Division of the Fire Marshal. He has over 32 years of combined full time, paid reserve and volunteer experience within the fire service. Has served in the positions of firefighter, fire safety/public educator, fire inspector, fire prevention officer/fire investigator, and deputy fire marshal. As well as a chaplain. He has attended the Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Academy and the National Fire Academy’s fire/arson training. 

He is a certified fire and explosions investigator CFEI through the National Association of Fire Investigators NAFI. Additional training includes interpersonal skills, problem solving, decision making, conflict resolution, CISM, EMDR, basic fire chaplain certification and fire families training through the Federation of Fire Chaplains. National Fallen Firefighter taking care of our own—preparing for LODD. Paul Is the co-founder of Colorado State Chaplains Association CSCA founded in November 2000 and founder/President of Emergency Services Ministries (ESM), a resource to several fire and law enforcement agencies. He is also serves as Vice President on the Colorado Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

 Mike Weege, Board Member

Fire Chief, Evergreen Fire Rescue.  Mike’s home town is Green Bay, Wisconsin.  He received a BS from the University of Wisconsin – Stout in Product Development.  Spent his career as a Mechanical Engineer designing electronic test equipment, underground mining equipment, airport runway snow removal equipment and robotic packaging equipment.

Moved to Denver in 1993 and to Evergreen in 1999, joining Evergreen Fire Rescue in 2001.  Hired as the Fire Chief in 2012.

Bert Brooks, Board Member

Bert Brooks is an Engineer for the Arvada Fire Protection District.  He is the Honor Guard Commander, serving with the Arvada’s Honor Guard Since 2000. 

In 2014, he took over as the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters Honor Guard Commander, leading the Honor Guard for the Colorado Fallen Firefighter Memorial. He wanted to get more involved with the Memorial and try to make some positive changes in the ceremony. He then started attending the board meetings the beginning of 2018, and in the Fall of the same year he was asked to join the Board which he accepted. His passion and purpose are to Honor the Fallen and their families. He is always thinking of ways to support the mission, in everyday life and with Memorial ceremony. Being a current line firefighter and an Honor Guard member brings a good prospective to the Board.

 Jason Puffett, Board Member

Jason has served the Genesee Fire Protection District as Fire Chief since 2015.  His belief is that leadership is a service role to both the community and to the team of individuals who commit their time and energy to building an agency founded on honor, integrity, and pride.   

Jason was born and raised in Minnesota and came to Colorado in 1999 and then eventually moved to Genesee in 2009.  He received a B.S. from the University of Minnesota and an M.S. from the Colorado School of Mines.  He spends his personal time with his wife and two boys biking, skiing, hiking, trail running, fishing, camping, and any other outdoor venture that comes his way.

Kirk Freedle, Past President

Kirk Freedle has been a board member of the Colorado Fallen Fighters Foundation since October of 2010.

Kirk is a Chartered Financial Consultant, an advanced degree in financial planning issued by the American College, located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.  He has been assisting fire fighters, municipalities, individuals and businesses with their investment and financial planning since 1994. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Colorado State University. Kirk is a third generation Colorado native who enjoys coaching soccer, fly fishing, skiing, and golf. He lives in Brighton Colorado with his wife Tiffany and his daughters Skylar and Addison.

 Brian Achziger, BLM Colorado State Fire Management Officer

Brian Achziger became the BLM Colorado State Fire Management Officer in January 2018. Prior to that, he served almost 5 years as the Deputy State Fire Management Officer for Colorado. Brian started working in the fire service in 1994 while attending the Structural Fire Science program at Central Oregon Community College.  His experience includes working for the Oregon Department of Forestry, BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, in Oregon, Southern Utah, Arizona and Colorado.  Brian has also worked in some non-fire positions, including short term details, as Field Manager in Arizona, Branch Chief for Business Services and Deputy State Director for Resources in the Colorado State Office.

 R.J. Fernandez, Board Member 

R.J. Fernandez grew up in Commerce City and graduated from Adams City High School in 1989. 

He worked at Stapleton Airport, where he met his future wife, Martina Sanchez. In 2000, R.J. joined the South Adams County Volunteer Fire Department, where he earned the rank of Lieutenant and represented the volunteers as an Active Member of the Pension Board. 

As the South Adams County Fire Department transitioned to a fully paid career department, R.J. retired as a volunteer to spend more time with his wife and two daughters. He served on the SACVFD Pension Board and is currently the Secretary of the District Fire Board.

He has been a member of the Colorado Patriot Guard since 2010. 

Full List of Board Members

John Bales

Kirk Freedle

Cathy Teter

Mark Carlson

Dan Qualman

Jerry Rhodes

Paul Russell

Mike Weege

Don Lombardi

Vikki Seela

Mike Morgan

Bert Brooks

Jason Puffet 

Brian Achziger

RJ Fernandez 

Founding Board Members

Don Reichel

James Etzel

Ken Ranson

Shirley Keller

Viki and Dennis


Vikki Seela

Historical Board Members

Ashley Austin

Christina Griggs

Bryan Martin

Bill Guindon

Bob Brown

Craig Sellers

Dean Smith

Deb Unruh

Doug Lee

Doug McBee

George Goldbach

Jeff Cunningham

Jeff Johnson

Jewel Berkey

Jessica Norris

Joe Ashby

John Bliven

Julie Davis Ratner

Katie Baumann

Ken Rice

Ken Westlund

Kirk Freedle

Larry Petersen

Linda Glesne

Lloyd See

Mark Davis

Rachael Nelson

Phil Workman

Rob Appelhanz

Rob Jones

Ron Weidmann

Sheryl West

Tom Farber

Dennis Murphy