The San Francisco Firefighter and EMS Behavioral Health Foundation (SFFEBHF) has partnered with the San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 and other organizations throughout the Bay Area to provide grants for active and retired members who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis. We are committed to providing support to our SFFD brothers and sisters for travel, food, clothing, lodging, child/elderly/pet care, etc. These grants are designed to bridge the gap between the immediate crisis at hand and the long-term resources available through established city organizations like the SFHSS Employee Assistance Program, your employee health benefits, and our own SFFD Behavioral Health Unit (BHU).

In collaboration with corporations, private donors, and government agencies, the SFFEBHF, a not-for-profit organization, is raising awareness and funds to provide short-term financial assistance to any member seeking long-term wellness.

We cannot do this alone. We need your help! We ask for your donation now!

San Francisco Firefighters and EMS Behavioral Health Foundation Logo


PO Box #880442
San Francisco, CA 94188

Federal ID 88-2859272

Meet Our Team


Walter Villavicencio


As a first-generation San Franciscan from Latino immigrant parents, I was interested in community service at an early age. Growing up, I aspired to be a police officer due to the popular 1970s TV series The Streets of San Francisco. In the fifth grade, my good friend Tim O. and I made a Streets of San Francisco episode with an 8mm Bell and Howard movie camera. I forgot which one of us played the detectives in the show, Karl Malden, or Michael Douglas. I eventually put my dream on pause and decided to pursue a family business in jewelry making which was in the family for a few generations. In 1988 I took the San Francisco Fire Department entrance exam to be a firefighter and live out my dream of helping my community. It took a few years, and I entered the SFFD in 1991.

Being a firefighter was exciting and rewarding. I loved the eclectic and talented individuals I worked with in the firehouse and continued to be amazed at the skill and experience of my coworkers. I was far away from the little kid who played cops with his buddies, but in hindsight, I believe some of the trauma from growing up with alcoholism in my family allowed me to empathize and find compassion for the individuals I encountered while responding to 911 emergencies.

The early 90s wasn’t a time when you found us sitting around the firehouse talking about our “feelings” after returning from a particularly gruesome or difficult emergency call. We would give time and attention to our physical well-being by taking a shower, changing into a clean uniform, hosing down our PPEs, and ensuring our equipment was clean, stocked, and ready for the next 911 call. We did not consider asking each other the simple question “are you ok?” or openly discussing what we had just witnessed.

It was with the encouragement of a firefighter friend and a 30-year career witnessing a brother or sister in trouble and watching them lost to addiction or experiencing a behavioral health crisis that ended their career as a firefighter or ended their life that I formed a team of active and retired firefighters to create The San Francisco Firefighter and EMS Behavioral Health Foundation.

After retiring in 2021 and assisting a couple of brother firefighters through a behavioral health crises, I felt driven to be involved and learn more about the resources available to our active and retired members. I joined the department’s Behavioral Health Committee and took Peer Support and Critical Incidence Response training offered by the SFFD. I got to know our behavioral health coaches (stress unit) and recognized how overworked they were. Under the shadow of a global pandemic and unprecedented mandatory overtime, I was aware of how exhausted our members were. I noticed there were gaps in treatment even though we have many resources at our disposal.

I believe the journey to a healthy recovery has many turns and roadblocks. At critical times the necessary resources are not always available to an SFFD member in crisis. Even though employee health insurance provides clinical treatment or therapy sometimes additional short-term monetary assistance is necessary to get the member in crisis to the next step toward health.


Heather Buren

Vice President

In 1997, Heather started her career in the San Francisco Fire Department as a firefighter. In 2002, she cross-trained to be an H3 Firefighter/Paramedic. Heather was promoted to Lieutenant in 2009 and is currently the Captain of Engine 7.

Heather has proudly served 24 years on the board of the United Fire Service Women, an employee affinity group committed to direct involvement in health, recruitment, promotion, and education of women in the San Francisco Fire Department. In 2012, Heather and her colleagues were facing staggering cancer rates locally and nationally. Her interest in health and wellness, coupled with grave concern regarding the high breast cancer rates among her colleagues, became a catalyst for Heather to develop best practice training on how to reduce toxic chemical exposures on the job, thus educating her peers about the occupational exposures they face as firefighters. Along with scientific researchers, colleagues, and community advocates, Heather was part of a team to study the effects of toxic chemical exposures on women firefighters in SF, titled “The Women Firefighter Biomonitoring Collaborative Study”.

Considering her previous work, it was a natural transition in 2018 for Heather to join the first team of SFFD firefighters to be formally trained as Peer Supporters. She has continued her education in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and works diligently to solidify and grow her department’s Peer Support Team. Heather believes a strong Behavioral Health Program starts at the peer level and she has made this the cornerstone of her work, reaching out to members in behavioral or mental health crises.

She is an avid and experienced traveler who loves to experience the culinary and visual arts of the countries she visits. Heather finds joy and solace in hiking, ocean swimming, gardening, and cooking for her family and friends.

Heather Buren, Vice President of SFFEBHF

Andrew Yee


Andrew Yee joined the San Francisco Fire Department in 2012 and is currently a member of Rescue Squad 2. While attending a career day presentation at Sacred Heart Cathedral High School, he was inspired to become a firefighter after listening to stories of incredible heroism from San Francisco firefighters. Their unique sense of pride working and protecting the city where many of them grew up resonated with Andrew. From that day forward, he was determined to join the SFFD.

Uniquely, Andrew’s best friend since he was 5 years old, Alex, also had the same aspirations to become a firefighter. They motivated each other to work towards their common goal. They were student resident firefighters for UC Davis Fire, worked on the same ambulance, and served in Cal Fire together. Andrew was hired by San Francisco Fire Department and soon afterwards Alex became a firefighter with Sacramento City Fire Department. During Alex’s first year on the job, he responded to a house basement fire where the floor collapsed and he was trapped for over 7 minutes, which nearly ended his life. He spent a month in the Burn ICU and Andrew saw firsthand that recovery from a traumatic event not only involved physical healing, but also a focus on mental health. Alex proactively utilized every resource available to him to overcome his PTSD and continued his career as a firefighter.

Andrew continued his firefighting career and never thought he would need to seek out mental health resources for himself. However, in 2020, his good friend and fellow firefighter, Jason, tragically fell from the training tower. Andrew was in a state of shock after he performed CPR on his friend who ultimately passed away. After such a traumatic event he knew he needed to seek mental health resources immediately. He made countless phone calls to try to get the help he needed, but neither EAP or the SFFD stress unit provided him a solution. Thankfully, Walter Villavicencio referred Andrew to a private therapist who specializes in mental health for first responders. He was shocked to discover that not all therapy is covered and some treatment required out-of-pocket expenses. He personally experienced the obstacles his fellow SFFD members may encounter, which is why he was happy to be the Secretary of SFFEBHF in order to be part of the solution. Whether through monetary assistance or connecting a member to the numerous resources available, Andrew wanted to ensure that no SFFD member felt lost or option-less in their time of need.


Joe Driscoll


Joe Driscoll serves as the treasurer for the SSEBHF. His other positions and accomplishments in this community include Captain (Ret), 51st PX-Class, Trustee, TUP, MBA, CFA, and SGM.

Joe Driscoll, Treasurer of SFFEBHF

Mike Belcher

Board Member

Mike Belcher spent his career as a firefighter. In 2010, he retired from the SFFD after 29 years of service, the last half of which was spent at Engine 12 in the Haight. Over the course of Mike’s life he has had the opportunity to help both family members and fellow firefighters obtain treatment for alcohol addiction. When he was asked to serve on the SFFEBHF foundation he jumped at the opportunity. Mike is proud to partner with this organization, and believes in the impact it has had and will continue to have in the lives of firefighters and their families.

Mike Belcher, Board Member of SFFEBHF

Dawn Rosales

Board Member

Hi, my name is Dawn Rosales, and I was born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco where I had a very tumultuous childhood. At the age of 33, I was hired for my dream job with the San Francisco Fire Department. It’s one of the best things that ever happened to me in this lifetime. After 21 years of being with the department, I now know that there is a lot that goes with it. In addition to surviving a very toxic childhood, I experienced many work-related situations that took place on the same streets in the same neighborhood I was raised, which compounded my PTSI that hadn’t yet been dealt with. Putting everything that I was already feeling and thinking together, along with the spacial physicality of the job, I fell into a dark hole and didn’t know what to do with myself after retirement.

As it turned out, I was able to go to the Center of Excellence (COE) run by the IAFF and that was only because Walter Villavicencio met with SFHSS to have our health insurances recognize more options for in-patient treatment facilities. It was a long-awaited opportunity for me personally, that I could finally say yes to.

After two years of the SFFD Peer Support team (Stress Unit), I learned that too many of us have had events in our life that were traumatic, and that could lead to us hitting a wall when not dealt with. Sometimes we just need an open ear, and sometimes we need professionals. I am an open ear if ever needed; I am not a professional of any level, but I will support you as you walk through the sacred grounds of healing. If you’re out there doing the job still, please be safe. If you are retired and you find yourself going through ruminating and negative thoughts and behaviors, be kind to yourself and reach out. Thank you for your time, consideration, and service.


Phil Lee

Board Member

I am Philip Lee, a retired firefighter from Engine 01, currently serving on the Board of Directors for SFFEBHF. I started in the fire department in 1993 and retired in 2018. My probationary period was spent on Engine 41 and Truck 19. Vacation relief was at Truck 7, Truck 13 and Engine 21. I spent most of my career at Engine 01. It was the best learning experience of my fire career. At the end of June 2017, doctors found a clot in my heart that they attributed to a virus infection. The toughest part of the diagnosis from the doctors was that my firefighting career was over. I was hospitalized for eleven days with six days in the Intensive Care Unit. I was disappointed that I didn’t leave the fire department on my terms. Walter Villacencio visited me every day while I was hospitalized. One of Walter Villacencio’s quotes was “don’t let the job of firefighting define who you are, but enjoy the people and things that are around you!” I took that to heart and am happy to be alive! Do not be afraid to ask for help!

Phil Lee, Board Member of SFFEBHF

Janice Hayes

Board Member

Hi, I’m Janice Hayes. I was an active member of the San Francisco Fire Department from 1993-2020. I worked as a firefighter at Engine 36/Hazmat 1 from 1995-2009. I moved to the Bureau of Fire Prevention, Plan Check section until retirement in 2020. Prior to joining the SFFD I served 5 years active duty in the United States Marine Corps as an avionics technician on the now retired Grumman A-6 Intruder. I am a proud parent to a daughter and two sons.

In 2017, I was diagnosed with acute Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) when a gunman rained bullets down on the Route 91 Country Music Festival in Las Vegas. My friend was one of the victims that died. Returning back to work was difficult to imagine. Trying to navigate the city’s mental health system was challenging, as I still had no idea what was happening to me. My good friend was married to a SFPD officer and the SFPOA graciously offered their services to help me. Without that assistance, I wouldn’t have survived. Recovery is an individual process that can be ongoing. Having been through a number of therapeutic modalities, I learned that there are many methods to healing.

Being a part of the cultural shift that eliminates the stigma of mental health is incredibly important to me. I believe in the creation of a system that empowers our members to seek and receive appropriate help with the dignity they deserve. Money should not be a factor in getting help. The foundation provides the support that I believe aligns with my ideals. I am inspired to be a part of it and I am honored and grateful to have what I consider a lifetime of service.

Janice Hayes, Board Member of SFFEBHF

Xavier Brown

Board Member

Greetings, my name is Xavier Brown. I had the honor of joining the SFFD family in 2012, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been smiling ever since. As a probationary firefighter I was assigned to Truck 09 and Engine 12. Vacation relief at Station 14 and 38. I became a driver at 38 and now hang my hat (helmet) at Station 7 on RS2.

When Walter Villavicencio called me and gave me a brief description of his vision for SFFEBHF, I was impressed. He explained the need to help our members and how the need wasn’t quite being fulfilled. His commitment and hard work is tireless. His enthusiasm for helping is inspiring. I wouldn’t just figuratively but have literally followed Walt into a burning building. It’s a great honor to join the SFFEBHF.

Xavier Brown, Board Member of SFFEBHF

Kaeo Nacua

Board Member

Hi, I’m Kaeo. I’m originally from Hawaii, but now I live in San Mateo, California. I am a captain in the San Francisco Fire Department, and am currently assigned to the Airport Division. I’m passionate about helping others that experienced stressors in their lives. My goal is to best provide guidance when a member experiences a mental health crisis or just needs help. I have been trained is peer support, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), suicide prevention, and stress debriefing. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial & Organizational Psychology along with postgraduate studies in CISM. I have served for over 30 years in the SFFD, but before that, I served 20 seasons as a bartender for the San Francisco Giants!


Pia Crosby

Board Member

Pia Crosby leads with compassion, empathy, and understanding. As the owner of Fierce Therapy, Pia is a Licensed Marital Family Therapist (LMFT), Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), Energy & Sound Healer, Soul Doula (End-of-Life Doula), the wife of a First Responder and a mother of three amazing children. She works within an electric array of therapeutic modalities such as Trauma Informed Care which incorporates EMDR, Brainspotting, the Flash Technique, sound healing, movement, expressive arts, and creative expression.

Pia has worked with the San Francisco Police Department as one of their vetted Psychotherapists. She volunteers at the West Coast Post Trauma Retreat (WCPR), supervises MFT/LPCC Trainees/Associates with One Life Counseling Center (non-profit organization that cares for the WHOLE person), and has extensive experience as a school counselor (elementary, middle, and high school). Additionally, Pia volunteers her time to help create bridges in services within the community. Pia brings grit, tenacity, perseverance, and hope to SFFEBHF, helping to offer the connection and resources needed by those whose job it is to care for us all.

Pia Crosby, Board Member of SFFEBHF

John Diluzio

Board Member

I’m a second generation American and San Franciscan. My grandparents are from Italy and Ireland (this was a very common combination in SF in the 1950’s). I grew up in the Outer Mission. I joined the SFFD in 1982, and spent most of my career at Station 1 responding to calls in the Tenderloin. I have assisted many people throughout my life, both while working and personally, from alcohol and drug addiction to emotional and psychological issues. I feel like people trust me for a few reasons; I’m non-threatening, I am a social guy who likes people, and enjoy talking to most everyone.

I am an electrician, fireman, and musician. These days, I enjoy spending my time hanging with my eight grandchildren, and supporting my family where I can. I have a wonderful wife, we travel and entertain each other. I also serve on the Audit Committee for the SFFCU and the Executive board of Diluzio, Inc. I am excited to bring my years of knowledge and experience to assist SFFEBHF in helping Firefighters and EMS folks who are in need.
John Diluzio, Board Member of SFFEBHF

Danny Gracia

Board Member

I was born and raised in the fire service lifestyle. My grandfather, great-great uncle, and uncle were all San Francisco firemen. My brother and I followed suit. I became accustomed to what it takes and what it takes from you.

I served the San Francisco Fire Department and San Francisco Firefighters Union for 33 years and continue to do so. I have been a part of the SFFD community in various roles such as a fireman, Union Director, Union Vice President, and President of the San Francisco Firefighters Union Local 798. I have also been significantly involved as the chair of the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program for many years. That organization is near and dear to my heart.

I’m a family man and have been married for over 30 years with two children and now two grandchildren. I am all about helping people whether I know them or not, helping those who are in need and always volunteering to be a part of something. Whether it’s a toy drive, chili cook off, or a committee involving our SFFD community, you can rely on me for any or all needs.

I am proud to now serve as a member on our board to overall improve and promote the greatest asset we all have as first responders, our mental health.

Danny Garcia, Board Member of SFFEBHF

Kemp Hare

Board Member

Kemp Hare, San Francisco Fire Department Paramedic, is currently assigned to Street Crisis Response and Station 49 EMS. He is a member of Behavioral Health Unit committee, Peer Response, and has over 18 years in EMS experience. Kemp has had experiences with large disaster response, critical incidents, and behavioral crisis intervention. He was a part of the San Bruno PG&E gas pipeline explosion, Asiana SFO crash, as well as Hurricane Irma deployment. He is a self-care advocate, outdoor recreation enthusiast, and a parent of two teenagers and a beagle.

Kemp Hare, Board Member of SFFEBHF

Dan Nazzareta

Board Member

Hello, my name is Dan Nazzareta, and I am a Paramedic Captain currently assigned to the SFFD Community Paramedicine Division, serving and supporting some of the city’s most vulnerable and underserved populations. I’ve been in this role for the last three years and before this assignment, I was a paramedic on an ambulance out of Station 49, where I started my SFFD career in 2012.

I was previously assigned to the SFFD Stress Unit (now renamed as the Behavioral Health Unit) from 2017-2019 and partially in 2020. That role and my current role share many similarities when it comes to identifying an individual’s needs, and then navigating and facilitating that individual to the most appropriate resource, service, or program to address their specific needs.

Supporting and facilitating someone’s journey to a healthier lifestyle has increased both my empathy and awareness of the complex challenges many of us face in our daily lives as we work a rewarding and meaningful but often traumatic and intense job. I truly believe that after doing this job for over twenty years that emotional and mental wellness are an integral part of maintaining the balance of work and our personal lives. At the end of the day, we have to recognize and be mindful of how we manage that balance so we can continue to help others and are best equipped physically, mentally and emotionally to do so.

Dan Nazzareta, Board Member of SFFEBHF

Stan Lee

Special Services

I was raised in San Francisco. I joined the SFFD in 1995 and worked most of my career at Rescue Squad 2 at Station 7. I am presently an Acting Lieutenant as the Technical Training Specialist at the Division of Training. I am presently the President of the Asian Firefighters Association and the President of the newly formed Asian Firefighters Charitable Foundation. I am a small business owner in San Francisco.

I am no stranger to behavioral health issues having suffered numerous work related head injuries that have caused myself behavioral health issues. I have been fortunate to have had the support of my family and the SFFD to help me through the various stages of my own problems and presently am mostly recovered. I look forward to helping my fellow firefighters through their own behavioral health issues.

Stan Lee - Special Services at SFFEBHF

April Sloan

Special Services

April started in public safety in 1997. Her own experience with PTSD motivated her to speak openly about the process and recovery with the hope of encouraging other first responders and reducing the stigma. Increasing awareness and accessibility to mental health services for first responders remains a main goal.

April Sloan - Special Services at SFFEBHF
San Francisco Firefighters and EMS Behavioral Health Foundation Favicon

Make a Donation

Please support our SFFD firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics by donating to the San Francisco Firefighter and EMS Behavioral Health Foundation.