Fire Officers

Fire line chief and administrative officers are elected by the membership of the company. Eligibility for office consists of a combination of requirements, including experience, training and certifications and activity. Officer assignments and appointment of captains are completed by the Chief of the Department.

Chief of the Department


Steven Gallaher

Chief Steven Gallaher has been a member of Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Co. since 1999. He has numerous training courses through the Delaware State Fire School. He has served in all operational positions in the Company including Assistant Engineer, Ladder Captain, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief and now Chief of Department. Chief Gallaher is also an Active Duty Veteran where he served with the Army's Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the 160th SOAR(A) out of Ft Campbell, KY. Chief Gallaher is married and he and his wife have two children and live in Newark.

Deputy Chief


Deputy 7

AJ Schall

A.J. Schall Jr. has been a member of Aetna since 1999 and is a Past Chief and is currently a Deputy Chief of the Department.  Schall is certified as an EMT, NFPA Firefighter I/II, NFPA Fire Instructor I/II, Swift Water Tech, Blue Card Command, NFPA Fire Officer I/II along with several ICS and Incident Management Courses.

Chief Schall got his start in public safety in 1994 as a volunteer with the Kane County (Illinois) Office of Emergency Management. While studying at St. Ambrose University, Chief Schall was employed by the Department of Public Safety. Chief Schall graduate in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance.

Upon graduation, Schall began his professional career with Bank of America, where he entered in to a rigorous management development program. He has held positions in customer service and sales, management, facilities management, event coordination, and group relationship management. He has worked with large corporate budgets, negotiated key contracts, and has nearly two decades of experience in upper level management.

Chief Schall became the Director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) in 2015.  Schall brings a background in public safety to the agency, complementing it with emergency management and corporate experience and currently serves as the Director and Homeland Security Advisor.

Schall continues his professional development completing the US Army War College Commandant’s National Security Program in 2016, and most recently the Naval Post Graduate School Executive Leaders Program.  In the winter of 2020, Schall began as an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware.

A.J. Schall moved to Delaware in 1998 and currently lives in Newark with his two sons.

Deputy Chief 


Deputy 8

Andrew Happer

Deputy Chief Happer joined the fire service in 2008 and has been a member of Aetna since 2012. He previously held the rank of Captain from 2015-2019 and served as a Director in 2019. He helped develop the live-in program and was a live-in member for the inaugural year of the program (2017-2018).

Deputy Chief 


Deputy 9

John Guzzo

Deputy Chief John Guzzo began his volunteer fire career in 1990 as a junior member of the Hockessin Fire Company, where he is currently a life member.  John started with Aetna as a ride-a-long in college and officially joined in 1999.  In addition to his service as a firefighter, EMT and line officer John is a past board member of the department. 

John manages several functions for the department, including overseeing the probationary member process and training program.  In addition, John serves as a lead instructor for the department's Tractor Drawn Aerial (ladder) driving class.

John holds certifications as a Nationally Registered EMT, NFPA FF I/II, Fire Instructor I, Fire Officer I/II, Swift Water Technician and in Blue Card Incident Command. John has a BA from Widener University and is currently working on a master’s degree from the University of Delaware. 

Deputy Chief 


Deputy 10

Bryan Berkley

Assistant Chief

Probationary Training


Jeff Demicco

Assistant Chief Demicco has been with Aetna since 2009. He has completed a variety of training including Firefighter 1 and HAZMAT Operations. He previously served as a Captain.

Assistant Chief



Patricia Fox

Following in her Dad’s footsteps, Patricia joined Aetna in January 1997 while attending the University of Delaware.

She graduated from Wilmington University with a BS in Elementary Education, a M.Ed. in Special Education and M.Ed. in School Leadership. She taught Elementary Education for several years while working her way through her Masters Degrees.

She began teaching for the Delaware State Fire School as a Field Instructor in April 2008 and in 2019, she was hired full time as the Training Administrator in charge of EMS programs. She has held many leadership positions in Aetna including EMS Lt, Fire Captain, Asst Chief and Deputy Chief.

Patricia has been a Nationally Registered EMT since 1998. She also holds Pro Board Certifications in Fire Fighter I/II, Fire Officer I/II, Fire Instructor I/II/III, and HazMat Awareness. She graduated from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs Police Command and Leadership class in November 2021 and is the Immediate-Past President of the New Castle County Chief’s Association.

Chief Engineer



Captain 10

Matt Creek


10 Captain 1

Pat Fleming

Safety Officers

Safety 7

Steve Debold

Steve Joined Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Co in March of 1993.  He has served as EMS LT, Capt, 2nd and 1st Asst Chief as well as Deputy Chief, and currently serves as a Safety Officer on the operations side of the department.  Steve has previously and is also currently serving as a Director for the department and is active on several committees.  Steve holds certifications up to and including Fire Officer II, Blue Card and ICS 400.  Steve has been employed by New Castle County since 1999 and is a Telecommunicator II - Fire/Medical. 

Safety 9

Dave Wilson

EMS Officers

EMS Captain 

EMS Captain 9

Chris Zistl

EMS Captain Chris Zistl joined the company in 1993, and has been a member for 25 years. He has held the previous position of EMS Captain, and also served on the Aetna Review Board. He is currently an engine/rescue driver, swift water rescue technician, and EMT. Chris has an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection Engineering, and currently works at Bank of America.


Lieutenant 10

John Witzke

Administrative Officers


Dan Seador

Mr. Seador joined Aetna in 1980 and has served as President of the company since 2017. In addition, Dan has previously served as Vice President, Director, Deputy Chief and Assistant Chief. During this time Dan has coordinated a number of strategic initiatives including the needs assessment and construction of our Glasgow station. Dan has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and also attended Ohio University for Communications Management. After 33 years of service with the Emergency Medical Services Division of the New Castle County Department of Public Safety, Dan retired as an EMS Assistant Chief in 2015.

Vice President

Jonn Townley

Mr. Townley joined Aetna in 1972 and has served in most of the elected and appointed positions in the the Department. Jon first served as the Financial Secretary due to his education background. Jon received a Business Degree in Accounting from Brandywine College and went on to collect credits at University of Delaware in Computer Science. He also has taken numerous classes during his 52 years of service at Aetna from the Delaware State Fire School. Jon worked in the Auto Business for over 30 years finishing as the Chief Financial Officer for the Preston Auto Group. He then worked as a Firefighter/EMT for Minquas Fire in Newport DE. Jon has held Fire line offices in Aetna including Captain, 2nd Assistant Chief, 1st Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief, and Chief of the Department. He also held offices as EMS Lt., EMS Captain and EMS Deputy Chief. Jon has served Aetna as Director, Vice President and President. He holds the titles of Past President in the New Castle County Fire Chiefs Association, Delaware State Fire Chiefs Association and the Eastern Division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He also holds the office of Marketing Director in the EDIAFC. Chief Townley currently serves as the Assistant Treasurer for the Delaware State Fire Chiefs and has been appointed the Executive Director for the EDIAFC in 2023 and holds that position today. 


Erin Browne

Ms. Browne has been a member of Aetna since 1999 and has served on the Board of Directors since February 2020. She is currently responsible for bylaws and policy development. Erin has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Delaware and has worked full time in local law enforcement since 2004 where she currently serves as a Police Lieutenant. Erin also actively rides at Aetna and holds numerous public safety certifications including NFPA Firefighter II, Officer I, NREMT. She is also a DE COPT Certified Instructor and graduate of the NJSACOP Command and Leadership program.


Matthew Creek


Steve Debold

Steve Joined Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Co in March of 1993.  He has served as EMS LT, Capt, 2nd and 1st Asst Chief as well as Deputy Chief, and currently serves as a Safety Officer on the operations side of the department.  Steve has previously and is also currently serving as a Director for the department and is active on several committees.  Steve holds certifications up to and including Fire Officer II, Blue Card and ICS 400.  Steve has been employed by New Castle County since 1999 and is a Telecommunicator II - Fire/Medical. 


Paul McCloskey

Mr. McCloskey joined Aetna in 1981. Previous positions include Ambulance Lt.  and pump operator. Current responsibilities as a Board of Director are Historic research and preservation, document archiving, IT Committee, and company website. Paul is also one of the company photographers. Outside of Aetna, Paul is a Sr Fraud Investigator for BNY Mellon.


Gene Niland

Mr. Niland began his fire service career in 1965 in Avondale, PA and joined Aetna in 1977. He has served on the board for much of the last twenty years and currently chairs the Human Resources and Insurance Committees. He has also served as a lieutenant and EMS Captain and coordinated truck company operations training for nearly 27 years. An army veteran, Gene retired as a Facility manager for Hewlett Packard and currently enjoys time with his five grandchildren.


Lisa Pragg

Coming from a family involved in firefighting, Lisa joined Aetna in November 1996.  She was the first female to hold a director’s position when she started her first term years ago.  She is currently a director and Co Chair of the Membership Committee and Chair of the Incentive Committee. Lisa participates with weekly engine crews and is a cleared driver.  When she is not at the firehouse, Lisa is competing with her horse Impeccable or at home with her husband Matt and daughter Kylie. 


John Witzke


Brian O'Dell


Melissa Weyl

Financial Secretary

Teddy Katona

Teodorica “Teddy” Cenizal-Katona has been a member of Aetna since 2004.  She has held various EMS leadership positions, including EMS Lt and EMS Captain.  She is certified as an EMT, confined space rescue technician, HAZMAT technician and has completed all the available training from DSFS for industrial brigade and structural interior firefighting.

Teddy is a New Jersey native with a degree in Chemistry from Rutgers University.  She has been in Delaware since 2001, after starting a career as a Chemist with Dupont at the Stine-Haskell site.  In 2017, the Stine site was purchased by FMC where she remains as a research chemist.  The Stine research center is also home to the FMC Stine Emergency Response team, Sta 35-3 where she currently serves as an Assistant Chief.  

Recording Secretary

Thomas Shipman

Thomas (Tom) has been a member of Aetna HH&L since 2004 after starting his Emergency Service career at the University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit in 2000. He also served on an industrial HAZMAT team at Agilent Technologies. 

Tom has served as Recording Secretary since 2016. He has actively served on the following Company committees: Buildings & Grounds, Constitution & By-Laws, IT, Long Range Planning & Finance Committees. He also previously served as an Assistant Engineer at Station 7. 

Tom holds a Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, with a minors in Civil Engineering and Economics from the University of Delaware.

Fire Recorder

Sam Palermo

Sam is currently a Life Member, joining Aetna in 1977, after 13 years with Minquas in Newport [Sta. 23]. He has been an active member since joining, holding the office of Assistant Chief  [78-B] from 2001 until 2006 and Fire recorder since 2007. Sam also served on the By-laws committee and Review Board. Sam has conducted probationary training and helped revise the Aetna probie manual. 

Currently, Sam is a haz mat instructor at the DSFS, since 1973 and currently operates with both the county decon team and the county haz mat team. He is also an engine driver  and operates out of Station 7. Sam designed the "Junkyard Dog" patch and wall logo at Station 7.

Public Information Officer

Lawrence Tan

Lawrence E. Tan has been a member of Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company since 1985 and currently serves as the Public Information Officer (PIO).  He is a Nationally Registered Paramedic, Certified Healthcare Emergency Professional and Business Continuity Management Planner.

Tan started as a junior firefighter with the Talleyville Fire Company in 1978.  He served as a paramedic with the Emergency Medical Services Division of the New Castle County Department of Public Safety, retiring as Chief of Emergency Medical Services after over 37 years of credited service.  During his tenure with New Castle County, he served on the Delaware EMS Oversight Council (DEMSOC), Advanced Life Support (ALS) Standards Committee of the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, FEMA Region III Regional Advisory Council, federal InterAgency Board, and First Responder Resource Group (FRRG) with the Science & Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  He also served as a Commissioner on the National Commission on Children and Disasters and is a Past President and Director Emeritus of the International Association of EMS Chiefs.

He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Wilmington University and Widener University School of Law.  He also attended the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

Contact information:  PIO@aetnahhl.org