Chief Swinsick hangs up his turnout coat after 18 years with North Routt Fire |

Chief Swinsick hangs up his turnout coat after 18 years with North Routt Fire

North Routt Fire Protection Chief Mike Swinsick stands in August 2017 next to a new truck that will replace their 1972 engine. Swinsick recently announced he is leaving North Routt Fire.
Matt Stensland/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

North Routt Fire Protection District Chief Mike Swinsick recently announced his exit from the district and plans to join the Utah DNR Division of Forestry Fire State Lands. Swinsick, a 30-year North Routt local, leaves behind an illustrious career and an open slot for a new fire chief. 

“I want to thank each and every one of you for the support you have provided to the NRFPD and hope that support continues forevermore,” Swinsick said in a Facebook post. 

Swinsick tackled a plethora of issues while with North Routt Fire, like becoming the first fire chief in Colorado to ensure his crew did not receive salary cuts in the midst of the 2018 Gallagher Amendment proposition to lower mill levies for special districts. 

“At the time, the solution to the problem was getting Gallagher Amendment mitigation as a ballot measure,” Swinsick said. “We were able to reach out to the community and get language passed so the board was able to make adjustments to our budget so it would not decrease. It was a pretty big hurdle but important for the district to keep our funding where it was.”

The rest of the state slowly followed suit with statewide legislation, passing Amendment B for mill levy correction in November 2020. This is locked in the assessment rate and was considered not only a huge win for fire districts, but schools and businesses too.

In addition to this, Swinsick secured new fire equipment for his crew and got the top floor of the fire station finished during his career.

Respected across all regional fire departments, Swinsick’s legacy includes some notable advancements for not just North Routt, but all of Yampa Valley. Others in the field emphasize how Swinsick’s in-depth understanding of North Routt forests and wildfire has aided many in the area. 

“Chief Swinsick has been a wonderful collaborator over the years, he has provided a tremendous amount of knowledge for not just North Routt, but the county as a whole. It’s very sad to see him go,” said Chuck Cerasoli, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue chief. “Whether it be about wildland fires or property lines, Swinsick’s unmatched grasp on the area has helped multiple other agencies.”

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Captain Michael Arce, who has worked parallel to Swinsick throughout both of their decades long careers, sings a similar tune.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chief Swinsick,” Arce noted while reflecting on Swinsick’s career. “It was always a comfort knowing that someone with the wealth of knowledge about the area and the wildfires he has was running things up in North Routt.”

Swinsick said one of the most rewarding aspects of his job was being a familiar face for community members in their most dire moments. When the people of North Routt called for help, they knew exactly who would come to their door, he added.

“North Routt is a great place to be, the community has always been very supportive, everybody is always looking out for one another,” Swinsick said.

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