Former interim Gladstone fire chief dies over the holidays
Jeff Smith, who recently served as interim Gladstone fire chief, died over the holidays.
Smith had a 26-year career with the Gladstone Fire Department and was active in training firefighters throughout the region and obtaining grant funds for the department. Smith rose through the ranks to become Gladstone's fire training chief and eventually interim chief of the entire operation from August 2018 to May 2019. Smith began his career volunteering for the department and was hired by the city in 1999 to be the department's full-time volunteer coordinator.
In memory of Smith, City Administrator Jacque Betz thanked him for stepping up when she needed him most, when he agreed to be the interim fire chief while the city went through a recruitment process for hiring a replacement.
"I know that he wanted nothing more than to spend time with Pam at their home in Lincoln City, but he loved Gladstone so much and agreed to end his remarkable career as a fire chief," Betz said. "For that I will be forever grateful."
Current Gladstone Fire Chief Rick Huffman collaborated many times with the Northwest Association of Fire Trainers that was led by Smith, whom Huffman said had an incredible history with the Gladstone Fire Department.
"I appreciated his continuous positive comments of the city of Gladstone and the firefighters," Huffman said.
Former Gladstone Fire Chief Tom O'Connor praised Smith in 2018, when O'Connor took a position as special operations division chief at the fire department in Vancouver, Washington.
O'Connor commended Smith for "experienced, stable leadership" as the city searched for a permanent replacement.
Smith wrote more than $2 million in successful grant applications for the fire department during his tenure. After Smith successfully applied to FEMA, the city received a $489,948 grant in 2017 for three firefighting positions over three years, which essentially added a third captain position with positive impact to the general fund.
O'Connor credited Smith as an integral part of the leadership that helped put in place new policy and strategic plans. These documents that represented fundamental changes to the fire department had to be approved during a turbulent period in Gladstone politics, in coordination with two city administrators and various elected city officials who often were newly elected or under the threat of recall elections.
Smith's celebration of life will take place at 1 p.m. on Jan. 22 at New Hope Church, 10603 S.E. Henderson St., Portland.
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