Battalion Chiefs

Deputy Chief - Operations, Justin Bates, leads the 72 people that work within the Operations Division. This includes the 3 shifts, the Training & Safety Division, and the Technology and Logistics Division.

Battalion Chief Ron NelsonBattalion Chief Ron Nelson retired on April 29th after over 21 years with Medford Fire-Rescue.  Ron started his career in the fire service in 1981 at Valley Fire Service (currently Rural Metro) in Josephine County.  Ron held positions as Communication Coordinator and Senior Fire Captain.  He has had served at several different fire departments in the Rogue Valley Area.  Moving to the public sector service with Grants Pass Fire Rescue in 1990, Ron worked as a Firefighter for over 6 years.  In 1996, he transitioned to the Medford Fire-Rescue team and served as a Firefighter and EMT Intermediate.  He was promoted to Fire Captain in June of 2005 and Battalion Chief on "A" Shift in July 2016.

Battalion Chief Nelson serves on the Training Committee, the Hazmat Team, and helped with design of our two new fire stations.  He provided training and policy development for our Search Guidelines.  He holds degrees in Fire Science and General Education.  He also carries a Fire Service Administrator Certification.

Ron and his wife, Nancy, have been married for over 35 years and have 4 grown children.  Their 3 sons are all serving in the same profession, as firefighters.  Their daughter is in her master’s program and will be a school teacher.  The family enjoys farming, 4-H, camping, outdoor activities and hunting.  Travel and cruising are enjoyed by the entire family.

Newly promoted Battalion Chief Kip Gray will be leading A Shift following BC Nelson's retirement.  Check back soon for his picture and bio.

Battalion Chief Erin Sawall leads the personnel assigned to "B" Shift. Having worked his way up through the ranks at Medford Fire-Rescue, Chief Sawall brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in Emergency Medical Services and Hazardous Materials responses to his job of leading his team. He is a certified Paramedic.

Battalion Chief Brian Farber Battalion Chief Brian Farber started in the fire service in 1978 as a Fire Explorer with the Eugene Fire Department.  Since that time he has been a volunteer with Santa Clara Rural Fire Protection District in the Eugene area, a Resident Volunteer (Sleeper) with Marion County Fire District #2 in.  He began his paid experience in 1985 as a Firefighter for the City of Grants Pass Department of Public Safety, Fire Rescue Division.  He was hired as a Firefighter for Medford Fire Department in 1994, was promoted to Engineer in 2001, Captain in 2006, and Battalion Chief in May 2018.

Brian is a graduate of North Eugene High School and Chemeketa Community College with an Associate of Science degree in Fire Protection Suppression Technology.  He is a graduate of the Fire Service Administrators Institute from Eastern Oregon State College as well as a graduate of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Leadership in Public Safety Organizations program.  He holds NFPA Instructor II and NFPA Fire Officer III certificates.  He is an EMT – Intermediate.

Brian has been very involved with special projects over his years with MFR.  He has been the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Program Coordinator for most of his career.  He manages the budget, specifications, purchasing, inventory, and routine and annual maintenance of all of MFR’s Structural and Wildland PPE.  He maintains NFPA and OSHA compliance for the Department.  Brian was responsible for the introduction of leather turnout boots to MFR.  He has been a member of the Training Committee for many years and is the Positive Pressure Attack (PPA) Lead.  He has been involved in teaching ventilation and is an Extrication Committee member.  He has participated in the preparations for the opening of two new fire stations.
Brian and his wife, Shellie, are happily married and have two grown children.  Their son and his wife live in Hillsboro, where he works as a Firefighter/Paramedic.  Their daughter lives in Bend, where she works for Lifelines Missions as a fulltime missionary working with college students.
Additional Department Information

Operations Department Contacts

Medford Fire-Rescue Administration Office
200 South Ivy Street, Room #180
Medford, OR 97501
Phone: 541-774-2300
Fax: 541-774-2514
Contact: Deputy Chief Justin Bates
Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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