SANTA CRUZ -- Cal Fire Santa Clara Unit Battalion Chief Rob Van Wormer lost consciousness and died Saturday night while on assignment, authorities said Sunday.
The cause and circumstances of Van Wormer's death were not immediately released. He fell ill and was transported to Dominican Hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 8 p.m., according to a statement from California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott.
Van Wormer, 47, had served with Cal Fire for 24 years, according to spokeswoman Angela Bernheisel. He served as both fire chief and a fire investigator.
"He was a very personable guy, a guy with a great sense of humor, a great person to work with," said Berhneisel, who said she had worked with Van Wormer since she joined the department 12 years ago. "The people who worked with him in Santa Clara are so distraught over this."
Van Wormer's wife and his two sons were brought to Santa Cruz, and were later joined by his parents and his sister, Pimlott said. His brother, Kirk, is a Cal Fire battalion chief in the Sonoma Lake-Napa Unit.
"This is a huge loss for Rob's family, his many friends, his Cal Fire family and the fire service as a whole," Pimlott said.
Memorial services have not yet been set.