Cumberland fire captain ends 26-year career

Jeffery Alderton, Cumberland Times-News, Md.
·3 min read

Mar. 8—CUMBERLAND — Capt. Buzz Davis retired March 1 from the Cumberland Fire Department, but he didn't go out the way he planned.

"I had to have both knees replaced last fall and I was in therapy for 12 weeks, so I am no longer physically able to keep working and do the thing that I enjoyed doing the most," Davis, who served the department for 26 years, said.

The Beall High School graduate had thought of becoming a teacher and pursued that career path by earning two degrees at Frostburg State University, one in geography and the other in secondary education and social studies.

But Davis "got the bug" when he joined the Frostburg Volunteer Fire Department in 1990, following in the footsteps of his late father, William. R. "Bill" Davis, who was a member of the department for 51 years until his death in April 2014.

Buzz Davis recalled a fire in a Stoyer Street apartment on Jan. 17, 1992, when he and Lt. Kip DeVault rescued 21-year old Frostburg State University student David J. Pear from the burning structure.

"If not for the immediate actions of Kip and Buzz, Mr. Pear would surely have died," said Frostburg Fire Chief Gary Tumino at the time of the incident.

Pear was rushed to a Cumberland hospital and later transferred to the Francis Scott Key Burn Center in Baltimore where he made a full recovery.

Davis was born into a family of public service and community involvement. His dad had served as the mayor of Frostburg and as police and fire commissioner and his mom, the late Winifred M. "Winnie" Davis, was a 36-year member of the Frostburg Area Ambulance Service, where she held various positions, including president. Winnie also held elected office and served as Frostburg's street and finance commissioner.

"Dad always took me with him to the fire station," he said.

But, he said, politics don't appeal to him.

"I remember all the times when people would come to the house mad about something and wanting to fight. But there were also many good times when people were saying thanks to my parents," he laughed.

Davis said he loved the fire service. He joined the Cumberland Fire Department in 1995.

"The thing I will miss the most is climbing onto Truck 1. That was the spot where I felt I could do the most good. That was my niche," said Davis, who named a couple of firefighters who impacted his career.

"Bill Beeghly and Bobby Long were a tremendous help. I enjoyed working with them and I spent 90 percent of my career under their command," he said.

Beeghly retired in July 2010 as a deputy chief and Long retired as a battalion chief in October 2015.

Cumberland Chief Donnie Dunn said Davis "has been a valuable officer and a big help to me since I have been chief.

"He has been a dedicated firefighter and very knowledgeable about firefighting. It is unfortunate that he had to take an early retirement," said Dunn.

Davis said he will miss the camaraderie of his fellow firefighters and that he "tried to learn from all of them."

As for retirement plans, Davis said he and his wife Lisa are anticipating a trip out west.

"We're going to Yellowstone National Park, where dad was a park ranger when he got out of the Navy and for a few years during the summers when he was teaching in the Allegany County school system," Davis said.

At age 56, Davis said he plans to contribute to the fire service by continuing to serve as a fire instructor at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute in Cresaptown and by possibly serving as a safety officer with the Allegany County Special Operations Unit.

He also plans to become more active with Frostburg fire department, where he is a life member.

"I just want everybody to keep training," said Davis, "and stay safe."