January 13th, 2016
Dear Members of PF&R,
After over 31 years in the Fire Service, nearly 28 of those with Portland Fire & Rescue, I’m pleased to announce my decision to retire this coming April. This gives me time to finalize a few projects and provides Commissioner Saltzman time to identify Portland’s next Fire Chief.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as your Fire Chief. I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to lead Oregon’s largest fire & rescue organization of 730 talented and highly trained people dedicated to protect lives, property, and the environment. I have loved coming to work each day, and am proud to call many of you friends.
Retiring is a difficult decision in a person’s life, but hopefully one we all will have the opportunity to consider; firefighters are exposed to increased dangers each day, and we all remember people who worked alongside us who never reached retirement age. My initial plan when I became Fire Chief was to retire in 2015, however as projects continued, I stayed to see those things through. What I’ve come to realize is that we will always be in the midst of one innovation or another, and every fire chief must at some point identify when they will pass the proverbial torch. I’ve stayed to finish goals I had set, including ensuring we had a solid and experienced leadership team in place to help the next Chief, and initiatives for the next generation to advance.
In the face of some of the most extreme budgets, together we have accomplished a tremendous amount during my tenure as Fire Chief. Here are some of our accomplishments we should all be proud of:
- Kept every fire station in the city open with four person crews on critical fire apparatus.
- Maintained minimum staffing of 165 Firefighters on duty each day and all Inspector positions.
- Utilized two Quint apparatus to increase capabilities in the face of budget reductions/redeployments.
- Re-introduced two person RRV’s to improve response reliability and response times of critical four-person crews on fire apparatus, sending the right resources at the right time.
- Built and opened Station 21, serving land and marine response, on time and within budget, that includes a Community Meeting room, a display area for public education, and room for additional resources as needed.
- Built two new state of the art fireboats- Kwansem and Skukum Ats, within budget.
- Prioritized earthquake response capabilities with the Eastside Tech Rescue Annex, equipment, training, and protocols.
- Increased callback apparatus by 40% without cost.
- Improved firefighter health and safety through Radon testing and extraction systems.
- Purchased new firefighter uniforms to meet NFPA recommendations.
- Initiating new protocols for pregnant firefighters and family support.
- Installing individual tap outs to combat firefighter sleep deprivation.
- Increased community engagement, messaging, and prevention outreach.
- Deployed two new Community Risk Reduction pilot programs (Home Safety Inspections and Firefighters as Role Models in After-School programs) with proven results
- Developed campaign against illegal fireworks and expanded awareness of negative impacts
- Developed PF&R’s Critical Data Points and moving the organization to be data driven
- Maintained Class 2 ISO rating.
- Completed PF&R’s 5-year Strategic Plan to maintain a clear path forward through 2020.
- Worked with the Commissioner’s office to pass an ordinance requiring sprinklers in assembly occupancies to make our citizens and firefighters safer.
- Marked ALS apparatus with ‘Paramedic’ to increase the public’s awareness of our capabilities.
- Improvements to Fire Information System programs.
- Deployed non-perishable food to all fire stations for use in an emergency that on rotation will be donated to help feed the hungry in Portland each year.
I’m proud of all that we have accomplished together. In my final months serving as your Fire Chief, I’m also looking forward to launching a new campaign to prevent Portland’s leading cause of fires (resulting in five fire deaths in 2015); PF&R’s Equity Roadmap and diversity training; work with providers-insurers for shared cost savings; preliminary GO Bond work; and pursuing HIPPA compliance. All of these projects will require ongoing support.
Again, it has been an honor and privilege to work alongside all of you serving our city, preventing emergencies from occurring, and helping people in their time of need. In an increasingly complex world, the training, skills and abilities required of all of you continues to grow. And I know you will continue to work hard to keep our city and people safe.
Like every Chief before me, your safety and well-being has been my, and will continue to be every fire chiefs utmost priority. I thank you and your families for your commitment to serve, day-in, day-out, throughout all extremes in weather, 24/7, 365 days a year. Be proud of your past, learn in the present, continue to move forward and look to the future. I am extremely proud of you and look forward to seeing you this spring for Chief’s Inspections.
Be safe out there,