55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204
NEW WEB FEATURE: read all of our news releases as they go out here: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/fire/news/index.cfm
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The next step? Getting all of our gear ready to go out again.
This video explores PF&R's demobilization from the statewide wildfire response. We still have folks in the field, but most of our crews and apparatus are back. Next step? Getting everything serviced in case we get called out again.
Portlanders Asked to Take Extreme Fire Precautions
As red flag weather conditions descended on Portland and sparked unprecedented multiple wildfires around the region, Portland Fire & Rescue responded to back-to-back incidents around the area. From downed power lines to trees crashing into cars and buildings to wind-stoked fires, PF&R is working around the clock to keep Portland safe. Since Monday, PF&R has responded to over 500 fire calls while in the previous three days we responded to 152.
Portland firefighters who are part of Incident Command Teams overseen by the Oregon Fire Marshal’s Office have already been deployed around the state to work on wildfires. Task forces were created to address the immediate needs in our neighboring counties that are fighting multiple wildfires requiring evacuations. We are supplying as much mutual aid as we can while still protecting Portland. To date, 70 Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters have been deployed around the state and we have put five fire engines, one water tender, and one brush unit on the road to assist Clackamas County and Medford in their wildfire fight.
“This is an unprecedented fire event affecting our state and it requires all of us to work together as a community,” says Fire Chief Sara Boone. “Thank you to our firefighters who left their homes to combat these wildfires that are destroying lives and property across Oregon. I want to recognize that many City of Portland employees, including firefighters, have been forced to evacuate their homes and are experiencing loss. I am asking every single person in Portland to do their part to prevent fires in the city.”
Fire staffing in the state is stretched thin and it is of the utmost importance that Portlanders take extreme preventative measures to make sure no fires are started. Some suggested measures Portlanders can take to protect themselves and the community are below:
Level 1: Get Ready
Level 2: Be Set
Level 3: GO!
Find out what you need to do at each evacuation level.
Learn what to do at different emergency evacuation levels:
Level 1: Get Ready
Level 2: Be Set
Level 3: GO!
Pack your valuables. Include important documents such as passports, birth certificates, insurance information, medications, medical equipment and animal vaccination records.
Monitor the news. Follow Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Multnomah County Emergency Management’s social media pages, local tv and radio news broadcasts.
Evacuate – information will be provided regarding where you can go to get information, resources, and support.
Read this guide to find out what to do in all of the steps: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/fire/article/531507
This guide goes over the different levels of emergency evacuation and what you need to do to prepare for them.
Willamette 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.