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Kris Artman joins the department after 26 years working for Portland Fire & Rescue. 

COURTESY PHOTO: LOFD - Kris Artman (left) was sworn in as the new assistant fire chief for the Lake Oswego Fire Department Monday, Aug. 1.

After 26 years working for Portland Fire & Rescue — and eventually helping to oversee operations there — Lake Oswego resident and newly sworn-in Assistant Fire Chief Kris Artman is excited to work for a department where she can match the face of every firefighter with a name.

Artman was sworn in as the new assistant fire chief during a ceremony Monday, Aug. 1.

"This just feels like home," she said. "I am really excited to work with Chief (Don) Johnson and bring the knowledge I've learned through the challenges in Portland and hopefully share it here."

In Portland, Artman was the deputy chief of operations, where she oversaw operations throughout the city during her shifts, worked out of the downtown station and responded to fires or other incidents herself.

Her job was even more challenging during the pandemic, particularly navigating ever-changing state regulations, personal protective equipment and firefighters with differing views on the threat of COVID-19. She said she was responsible for about 170 people every day and balancing the safety of coworkers with the need to serve the community weighed on her.

"(I had) to keep the whole workforce optimistic, positive, productive and effective, and also listen to their concerns about their own safety after they were going home to their families and being exposed," she said. "I felt like we were constantly walking this line of being there for the community but also managing the safety of what's too much — how much is too much risk for the crews?

"I felt like that was resting on my shoulders. That was my job."

COURTESY PHOTO: LOFD - Coworkers and residents watched Kris Artman officially join the Lake Oswego Fire Department.

Artman, who moved to town five years ago, said she was attracted to the culture of the Lake Oswego Fire Department, which she said features firefighters who are kind, egoless and internally motivated. She also was impressed that each firefighter has a greater role within the department, such as overseeing training or managing equipment.

"Working in that culture is going to be really exciting," she said. "Everyone is engaged at a higher level than I'm used to."

Further, Artman anticipates working with elected officials at times and overseeing operations like she did in her previous job. One difference she will need to get used to is that Lake Oswego operates with three crew members per firetruck while Portland enlists four.

Artman said she will operate out of the downtown fire station and encouraged community members with questions to reach out to her.

"If anyone has questions or suggestions or comments, I'm here to listen," she said.


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