Jeff Davidson, a 35-year veteran of the Mill Valley Fire Department who spent the past 34 months as its Fire Chief, retires today, July 31. City Manager Jim McCann has named Battalion Chief Tom Welch as Interim Fire Chief.
“The interim appointment will be in place for 3-6 months while we explore the best options for the long-term leadership of the department,” City Manager Jim McCann wrote in a message to City staff. “Chief Davidson has been a tremendous mentor to many firefighters including Battalion Chief Welch. Tom is well prepared to assume this leadership position as a result.”
Davidson began his career in the fire service in 1976 as a Volunteer Firefighter in Fairfax before coming to Mill Valley in 1979. He rose through the ranks in Mill Valley over the past 35 years, serving as a Battalion Chief from 1989 until his appointment to Fire Chief in October 2011.
A graduate of Sir Francis Drake High School, Davidson is a fourth generation Marinite and third generation firefighter. He lives in Novato with his wife Leona George-Davidson, with whom he co-founded LifeSupportM.org
a non-profit organization dedicated to helping “young people learn life skills to last a lifetime” through outings like the Mexico Mission house-building project
in the Tijuana/Tecate area of Mexico.
“You have a wonderful ability to work with people and you bring a tremendous energy to everyone and we’ve all benefited very much from that,” McCann told Davidson in a ceremony honoring him at the Mill Valley City Council’s July 21 meeting. “Beyond being a very talented firefighter, you are an outstanding man.”
“I feel at a loss to put into words the breadth and depth of experiences I’ve had in Mill Valley,” Davidson told the Council. “This is the only job I’ve ever wanted.”
Welch has been with the Mill Valley Fire Department for 14 years, the past 34 months as a Battalion Chief and Fire Marshal. He has been in the fire service for 24 years, including 10 years at Old Shasta Fire Protection District, serving the final two years as its Fire Chief. Welch lives in Santa Rosa with his wife and two children.
“Jeff has created and maintained an outstanding level of service, keeping residents, businesses, and visitors safe and making sure our community is aware about all of our efforts on fire prevention, disaster preparedness and evacuation planning – I fully intend to keep that level of service as high as Jeff left it,” Welch said.