Meet our Board of Directors
Assistant Fire Chief
Ret. Ventura County Fire Department
Andy served for 37 years with the Ventura County Fire Department. He grew up a son of a Ventura County firefighter, followed his father's vocational footsteps, and worked up through the ranks. Andy retired from the Department as the Assistant Fire Chief of Emergency Services in February 2017. On December 5 of 2017, Andy and his wife lost their home during the Thomas Fire. While the loss was devastating and heartbreaking, they started the long road of recovery and rebuilding. For the next several years they focused on getting back home.
Andy joined the Fire Safe Council in 2021, and he continues his career as a consultant and trainer instructing incident command and management courses. Andy joined the Fire Safe Council because of his commitment to the mission of the Fire Safe Council. He has experienced the effects and impact of wildfires, both as a professional firefighter and a victim of fire loss. Andy sees that protection from wildfires must include combined awareness and efforts of homeowners, neighbors, communities, and the fire service. The Fire Safe Council is committed to work that is necessary and important. He believes in the goal of bringing partners together for the safety and greater good of our communities.
“As a retired Assistant Fire Chief with the Ventura County Fire Department, I am proud and humbled to be part of an organization that is growing and has worked so hard to address the very real threat that wildfires present to our communities. As I look ahead to the future, I’m excited to be a part of the mission of the VRFSC. Additionally, I’m encouraged as we move forward and expand fire safety training, awareness, and services; as we provide our local communities in areas of fire prevention, property preparedness, fire safety education, and support to partner agencies.”
“We may not stop the large fires from coming, but we certainly can do a better job of preparing our people to be safe and protect their homes before the smoke is in the air” -Andy Ortega
Ret. Ventura City Fire Department
Luis spent his career with the Ventura City Fire Department for 32 years, having retired as a Battalion Chief in December of 2010. He has considerable wildland firefighting experience and was a Nationally qualified Engine Strike team leader having led several strike team assignments throughout California including incidents in Shasta, Butte, Kern, San Diego, and Ventura counties. Luis worked for the Santa Paula Fire Department in 2016-2017 as an Interim Assistant Fire Chief helping lead an effort to Annex Santa Paula's Fire Protection Services over to the Ventura County Fire Protection District to ensure long term service sustainability for the community of Santa Paula. In Retirement, Luis also served on the Ventura County Civil Grand Jury, was an Advisory Council member for the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, and served on the Planning Commission for the city of Camarillo from 2019-2023, including Commission Chair in 2022. He currently serves as Vice President for the Ventura County Regional Fire Safe Council Board of Directors.
Broker Associate for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Realty, The Hanley Team
Pat Hanley, MBA is a lifelong resident of Ventura County who is passionate about serving her community. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University. Pat developed strong accounting, finance, and audit skills while employed at Getty Oil Company and Rockwell International. She is currently a broker associate for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Realty where she assists her clients with residential and investment properties.
Pat also volunteers in the community and has written several successful grants for community organizations. At Thousand Oaks High School, she was co-chair of the “Every 15 Minutes”, a teenage drunk driving awareness program, and was involved with several athletic booster programs.
State Farm Independent Agent
Bio coming soon.
Veteran’s Emergency Technical Services (VETS)
Jim Kniss was raised in West Covina, CA (Second Generation So. Cal resident), then moved to Santa Barbara after the military in 1975. He settled in Ventura in 1980 and months later, Jim started with the Ventura County Public Works agency as a surveyor-in-training. Shortly after being hired, he transferred to the Mapping Department due to severe reductions in the survey needs of the county. While working there, Jim helped develop the GIS (Geographical Information System) base map that is used by all county departments for spatial awareness and decision-making. In 1995, Jim moved to the Ventura County Fire Department as the GIS analyst who is primarily responsible for the integrity of the 911 centerline used for emergency response. While with the fire department, Jim responded to over 50 large-scale fires, floods, landslides, and Hurricane Katrina as a GIS specialist. Jim retired from the county in 2008 and started Veteran’s Emergency Technical Services, Inc. (VETS) which provides mapping and infrared analysis during emergency operations throughout California. Jim has witnessed firsthand the tragedies of wildfires across the west and is passionate about making our communities as safe and as prepared as possible for these devastating events. He believes the Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council is a forward-looking group of volunteers focused on making our community as fire-resistant as we can.
“While with the Ventura County Fire Department, I responded to over 50 large-scale fires, floods, landslides, and Hurricane Katrina as a GIS (Geographical Information System) specialist. I have witnessed firsthand the tragedies of wildfires across the west and I am passionate about making our communities as safe and as prepared as possible during these devastating events. The Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council is a forward-looking group of volunteers focused on making our community as fire resistant as we possibly can.”-Jim Kniss
Fire Management Officer
Southern California Edison (SCE)
Kyle Gordon is a Fire Management officer for Southern California Edison. His background includes 7 years with the USFS as a firefighter/ EMT on both a hotshot crew and an engine crew. After his time as a firefighter, Kyle entered an apprenticeship program with the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and earned Journeyman Lineman Status. Kyle worked as a lineman for approximately 8 years. His unique experience as a lineman and firefighter has led to Kyle’s current position as a Fire Management Officer with SCE. At SCE Fire Management, Kyle bridges the gap between the IMT and SCE. There he serves as the agency representative on large-scale incidents and coordinates firefighter, public, and employee safety as it relates to working near powerlines, initial attack response, and restoration efforts. When not working on fires, Kyle and the SCE Fire Management team engage with fire departments all over Southern California building and maintaining key relationships. They also provide electrical safety for first responders training to approximately 600 first responders a year.
Ret. Ventura County Fire Department
After serving 8 years in the United States Air Force, Mike served for 32 years with the Ventura County Fire Department. He worked up through the ranks and retired from the Department as the Deputy Fire Chief in 2014. He continued his career as a consultant and trainer in advanced incident management. In 2016, Mike joined the Santa Paula City Fire Department as an Assistant Chief and served there for two years. Upon the consolidation of the Santa Paula City Fire Department and the Ventura County Fire Department, Mike left the Santa Paula Fire agency and continued to provide training and consulting services to agencies throughout the country. He continues to be a member of a Federal Incident Management Team and has responded to major incidents such as major wildfire incidents and hurricane relief efforts in many areas of the country. Mike is committed to the mission of the Fire Safe Council. He sees that protection from devastating wildfires must include efforts of homeowners, neighborhoods, and the whole community and that the Fire Safe Council is instrumental in bringing these partners together.
“As a retired Deputy Fire Chief with the Ventura County Fire Department, I am excited to be part of an organization that has worked so hard to address the very real threat that wildfires present to our communities. As I look ahead to the future of the VRFSC, I’m proud to carry the mission forward and expand even farther – the list of services we provide to our local communities in areas of fire prevention, property preparedness, fire safety education and support to partner agencies. ”
Storm King Mountain Technologies
“The Storm King Mountain Fire took the lives of 14 firefighters, including my brother. It was a turning point in my life. I realized I could remain bitter or I could turn this tragic event into something positive. I was fortunate to meet my brother’s firefighting friends and coworkers who took me under their wings, which was the impetus to learn about wildfire and get my wildfire credentials. These men and women were some of the best people in the world. Thus, began my career to push the envelope for greater fire safety. I challenged firefighters to think differently, particularly around fire shelters and training in real-life conditions. I started my own company, Storm King Mountain, Inc, where I created a state-of-the-art burn-over protection product for wildland firefighters. If we can help homeowners stay safe from wildfire, then firefighters will be safer too. That’s what it’s about. You got to leave this place better than when you got here. The Fire Safe Council is how I do it.”
California State University Channel Islands
Maggie Tougas, CEM has lived in Ventura County for over 33 years. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Both Criminal Justice Administration and Public Administration from San Diego State University. She is a Certified Emergency Manager with the California State Training Institute (CSTI/Cal OES). She worked for Oxnard Police Department in Crime Analysis as a Serious Habitual Offender Analyst for several years. She went on to become a Probation Officer, then Crime Analysis and Crime Scene Investigator with the City of Port Hueneme for 14 years. She also wore the hat of Emergency Manager at Port Hueneme. The first disaster she responded was the La Conchita mudslide. In August, 2011 she contracted with CSU Channel Islands in writing their Gas Pipeline Emergency Plan. The plan won an award the following year from Cal OES. On May 13, 2013, she began her career as a full time Emergency Manager on the day of the Springs Fire. Since then, she has responded to numerous fires and emergencies on campus and in Ventura County. She is a certified Incident Command System Trainer with CSTI and Plans Section Chief with the CSU system. For over 13 years Maggie was the chair of Ventura County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VC VOAD) and is still involved with VOAD in disaster recovery. She has an emergency preparedness consulting business and continues to meet the needs of the campus and Ventura County Community where help is needed before, during and after an emergency. She loves to spend time with her family, especially at her cabin in Tahoe.
Wildland Fire Division
Santa Barbara City Fire Department
Born and raised in the Ojai Valley, Mike has always been one with nature. After graduating Nordhoff High School Mike went off to work with the Federal Fire Service both with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and National Park Service (NPS) serving on fire crews and as an Engine Captain. He has responded to many campaign fires across the Western states both on management teams and operations. Mike attended and graduated from Oxnard College Regional Fire Academy and continues to educate himself through the California State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Today Mike is a big advocate for wildfire prevention and mitigation. He currently works for the City of Santa Barbara Fire Department in the Wildland Division where his goals are to protect lives, property and natural resources in the Wildland Urban Interface by the creation of defensible space, engineering, education, fuels reduction, and modification activities.
Mike resides in (Ventura County) with his wife Priscilla and four kids. He
enjoys spending time with his family camping and working at the farm. He
has been a big advocate in wildfire prevention along the Santa Clara Valley
of Ventura County.
Ret. Ventura City Fire Department