Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View Less

PF&R Blog header image

NEW WEB FEATURE: read all of our news releases as they go out here: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/fire/news/index.cfm

Receive more info at our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/PortlandFire

 Read our Past Blogs | Disclaimer

 


Statement from Fire Chief Sara Boone Regarding Portland Fire & Rescue’s Response to Racist Incident

Fire Chief Sara BooneWillamette Week is reporting on a racist incident that occurred in August 2019 connected to Portland Fire & Rescue and I want to speak directly to the public about the incident and my decisions regarding discipline in this case.

Soon after I was sworn in as Portland Fire & Rescue’s first Black fire chief, I was notified about an incident involving one of our firefighters who was at a conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The allegations in the report were appalling and shook me to the core as both a Black woman and chief of a public safety bureau. Reading the initial report, my reaction was anger that this could even occur and a deep sadness for the harm caused to the victim.

What happened: One of our firefighters got drunk and when he found himself locked out of his hotel, he became verbally aggressive with the Black woman working the front desk and used derogatory and offensive racial slurs to intimidate her.

The woman reported the incident to Portland Fire & Rescue the next day. She wanted to inform the bureau about the incident, not to get the firefighter dismissed, but because she wanted us to take action to make sure something like this never happened again.

First, I want to thank this woman for having the courage to come forward and report this incident. I also want to acknowledge the grace in which she made her intentions known. As we moved forward through the investigative and disciplinary process, she remained centered in my heart with each step. I am truly sorry that one of our employees caused her the type of pain that all Black women experience and know on a visceral level, myself included.

As head of the bureau, I had to keep an unbiased perspective during the investigation to keep the process fair. I maintained neutrality and objectivity as I considered all the evidence. In the end, the final determination of discipline was mine and mine alone.

At the conclusion of the investigation, I spoke at length with the firefighter in question. Based on my interview with him, his deep contrition, and how he expressed a true commitment to explore the racism he had never known to be a part of himself, I decided not to terminate him but to continue to extend that grace the victim offered with mercy. I also weighed the damage this incident had on the public trust, especially to the Black community. Ultimately, I created a discipline package based more on a restorative justice model where the road to redemption will require work and commitment from the employee.

The firefighter’s discipline includes the following: a six-month unpaid suspension and a Last Chance Employment Agreement that has built in steps to give this employee the tools he needs to not only confront his own racism, but to actively become anti-racist. Elements of the Last Chance Employment Agreement include a multi-step education process led by Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights where this firefighter will be teamed up with a racial equity mentor; a requirement that he donate $5,000 to one of a selected groups of non-profits that focus on racial equity; a course of outside racial equity training; and a requirement that he not drink alcohol.

This firefighter will have to walk a long path to earn the trust of his co-workers and his community, but he will not walk alone. In response to this incident, the union that represents firefighters and PF&R administration signed a binding agreement for leadership of both entities to engage in multi-level bias and anti-racism training. As an organization we have much to learn from this incident and as an organization we must change. The woman who suffered so much from this abhorrent act asked for us to make sure that this doesn’t happen again: I keep her request close to me as I lead the work for change.

Chief Boone signature 

Burn Ban Issued for Multnomah County Starting Friday July 24, 2020

The burn ban has been issued due to forecasted high temperatures, limited rainfall, and on-going dry conditions.

Multnomah Fire Defense Board Chief Scott Lewis has issued an outdoor burn ban effective immediately on July 24, 2020 in all areas of Multnomah County.

The burn ban has been issued due to forecasted high temperatures, limited rainfall, and on-going dry conditions.  

The burn ban includes recreational campfires, fire pits, yard debris, agricultural burning and permits issued for open burning until further notice.

Outdoor barbecuing is still allowed; however, residents should exercise extreme caution. When using charcoal briquettes please properly dispose of ashes in a covered metal container away from combustibles, and keep the ashes wet for a few days before properly disposing of them. Maintain at least ten feet between outdoor cooking and anything combustible such as siding, fences, shrubbery, etc.

Smokers are reminded to ensure their cigarettes are truly out and placed in proper receptacles.

Those living in wildland interface areas are asked to maintain their defensible space by monitoring growth surrounding homes and structures, and to maintain adequate access for firefighting equipment.

Portland Fire & Rescue created a video that explains the burn ban; you can see the video here: https://vimeo.com/438725963/d69083b7ff

2020 Virtual Portland Metro Fire Camp for Young Women

Due to COVID-19, this summer's in-person fire camp has been canceled, but you can still take part in the experience at home.

Logo letter PMFC

Unfortunately, the 2020 Portland Metro Fire Camp for Young Women had to be canceled due to health concerns in the wake of the COVID-19 virus.

Women firefighters across the region have come together at Portland Fire & Rescue's training grounds for over 10 years (and more recently at Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue facilities as well) to give hands-on instruction that shows campers what a career in the fire service is all about. These instructors are disappointed not to be able to lead campers in person, but they have gathered together to create a virtual camp for prospective firefighters to use to learn about firefighting drills, ancillary career choices, station life, exercise routines, and more.

Please use and share with any future firefighters in your life.

 

An Open Message from Chief Boone to Portland Fire & Rescue Crews and Public Safety Teams

Fire Chief Sara Boone speaking at podiumLast night, the City of Portland saw unrest unlike any I have experienced in my lifetime in this city. Portland Fire & Rescue was put to the test in a night full of emergency calls. I want to personally thank every member of Portland Fire & Rescue, including the Rapid Response Team, for their dedication, compassion, professionalism, and courage on every call. I am humbled by your continuous commitment to all communities that make up Portland and I feel these words fall short of how proud I am of the firefighters who braved the frontlines last night. 

When I became Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue, I made a promise to your loved ones that I would do everything within my power to ensure your safe return to the station and then back to the place you call home. But, I cannot fulfill that promise alone. Your dedication, your training, and your ability to make critical decisions brought you home safely to your loved ones by this morning. 

Last night, this city’s public safety teams worked together to back each other up and support the security of our community.From the 9-1-1 dispatchers at the Bureau of Emergency Communication who managed high-call volumes with technical expertise to the Portland Police Bureau teams that ensured our safety as we fought fires and attended to medical emergencies, I offer my heartfelt gratitude.

When I was sworn in less than a year ago, I could have never predicted what lay before us all in 2020. Although I couldn’t see what challenges we had before us, I had unwavering faith in the skill and commitment of the public safety professionals I have worked with side-by-side for my entire career.

I saw the best of our public safety professionals last night and I could not be prouder to put on my uniform again today. Thank you all for your exceptional service to the community.

Chief Sara Boone