New Summit Fire Chief Travis Davis prioritizes stability

Summit Fire & EMS Chief Travis Davis.
Photo by Sawyer D’Argonne /

KEYSTONE — Newly appointed Summit Fire & EMS Chief Travis Davis is hoping to provide stability and continuity to the district after years of rapid growth.

In February, the Summit Fire & EMS Board of Directors unanimously named Davis the new chief following the retirement of former Chief Jeff Berino. Davis has served as a firefighter in Summit County since 1995, most recently as the district’s deputy chief of operations.

Davis officially took over the role in July and said one of his biggest goals was to help provide the district with a sense of consistency as they continue to work through the finer details of recent mergers.

“It certainly has been exciting to be a part of, but at the same time, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that it takes its toll, too,” Davis said. “In the last five years under the former administration, we’ve done a lot. … We still have a lot to do to close the loops and settle the wake that we’ve got behind us as it relates to truly institutionalizing those changes.”

Davis has been around for much of the district’s evolution over the last 25 years. In 1995, he started as a volunteer in the first iteration of the Lake Dillon Fire Authority, which formed earlier that year after consolidating with the Frisco Fire Protection District.

Davis has since held every operations position there is in the department, including seven years as a captain and 15 years as battalion chief in charge of overseeing all engine crews on duty.

In that time, the district saw consolidations with Snake River Fire in 2006, Copper Mountain Fire in 2018 and the Summit County Ambulance Service last year. Davis said there are lingering impacts of those transitions that take time to work through. 

“When I think about the future and my agenda for this organization, it’s pretty simple,” Davis said. “It’s to recover from the various undertakings that we’ve been through in the last five, 10, 15 years as we’ve combined seven organizations into one. …

“We’ve done a lot of things for the right reasons, whether it was timing, opportunity or simply being in the best interest of serving the community. It really is just looking at the wake of details behind us.”

Davis said he felt consolidation was a three-step process: bringing the organizations together, institutionalizing the change and making it part of the norm. He said he felt that the district was currently in the institutionalizing phase, with work still to be done to strengthen its accreditation status and finalize legal, financial and human resource details of merging organizations.

“Change takes three to five years,” Davis said. “… Getting to the start line takes a whole lot of work. Once you get credentialed, there’s a whole other set of work that comes along after that. … But because we’ve had all this experience, we’ve gotten really good at bringing organizations together. It’s one thing I’m proud of, and I commend Chiefs Francis Winston, Dave Parmley and Jeff Berino, and all the chiefs from days past who have contributed to that.”

As Davis looks to settle the ripples of past consolidations and projects, he’s also looking forward to changes on the horizon.

This November, residents in the Copper Mountain Consolidated Metropolitan District will be voting on whether to officially bring their fire services under the umbrella of the Summit Fire & EMS organization. The district already joined forces with Summit Fire operationally in 2018, but a vote for the change would essentially sever the fire portion out of the metro district’s budget and shift it over to Summit Fire.

Summit Fire is also in very early conversations around the possible construction of a fifth station in Silverthorne. The department currently has four stations in Dillon, Frisco, Keystone and Copper Mountain. Summit Fire maintained administrative operations in Silverthorne until cutting the ribbon on its new offices in Frisco last summer.

Davis said he’s also thinking ahead to 2023, when the county’s 1A tax levy sunsets, and how best to make up for lost revenue.

“While I’d like to say we’re done and we can just focus on the day-to-day, we still have a few things in front of us we need to get through,” Davis said.

Still, Davis noted that he’s excited to take the helm at Summit Fire & EMS and help to keep things on course.

“It’s certainly humbling and a great honor,” Davis said. “That fact that I have the support of the board and the staff is not lost on me. … I just have to focus on keeping that support, and the trust and respect of the people out there doing the work on the street every day.”

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