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Fire Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty Names Ryan Gillespie Interim Chief

This morning Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty offered the post of interim fire chief to Deputy Chief Ryan Gillespie and he accepted this offer. 

Chief Gillespie will begin this post Feb. 1 after he returns from vacation. Chief Mike Myers has agreed to stay on an extra week, through the first week of February, to help Chief Gillespie with this transition.

Since Chief Myers made his announcement, Commissioner Hardesty had the opportunity to meet with many leaders from the bureau. “All of these leaders are impressive in their own way. I would have felt confident assigning any one of them the role of interim chief,” she said. “The one caveat I made to those who met with me is that the interim chief will be ineligible to be the next chief. It is my experience that allowing an interim to compete in the process provides an unfair advantage and discourages others from applying.”

Commissioner Hardesty says that Chief Gillespie impressed her with his knowledge of the bureau, his experience working in various divisions, and his support of Chief Myers’s vision. She noted that Chief Gillespie has been an early and ardent advocate on equity and can speak confidently and intelligently on the issue. Commissioner Hardesty also consulted with union leadership and they, too, support Chief Gillespie as interim chief.

Gillespie is currently assigned to Medical Services & Training Division. Projects and responsibilities in this assignment include: PF&R hiring and promotional processes, Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT), health and wellness program, EMS innovations, workplace assessment executive team, PF&R equity committee.

Chief Gillespie has been with PF&R since 1998 and has worked up the ranks from firefighter to deputy chief. He spent most of his emergency operations time as a firefighter, lieutenant, captain and battalion chief at fire stations in North and Northeast Portland. In addition, Chief Gillespie has worked at different ranks within PF&R’s training division with the responsibility of training and mentoring new PF&R recruits.

“One of my proud accomplishments has been working with Chief Myers and his team over the last 2 ½ years to evaluate PF&R’s culture, strengths, and weakness and to implement change to strengthen and improve the workplace and the services we provide to the community,” says Gillespie. “Chief Myers is leaving us with a legacy with which PF&R can continue to positively impact our community through his vision and innovation. I am excited for this opportunity to work closely with Commissioner Hardesty, the Executive Team from PF&R, and community members to continue Chief Myers’ vision until a permanent fire chief can be hired.”

Says Chief Mike Myers about Chief Gillespie: “I have long been impressed with Chief Gillespie’s intelligence, calm demeanor, passion for the fire service, and technical knowledge. He is a great leader and I think the commissioner has made an excellent choice.”