City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has appointed Portland Fire & Rescue Division Chief Sara Boone as the new fire chief.
Boone has been with the fire bureau for 24 years. In 1995, she became the first African-American woman firefighter in department history. She will become the first African-American fire chief in the history of the city.
Boone has spent the majority of her career in emergency operations before transitioning into assignments as the bureau's safety chief, logistics deputy chief, and the division chief of medical services and training. Her appointment was announced Thursday, June 13.
Hardesty had planned a national search for the next chief after Mike Myers resigned the day after she was assigned the bureau. But Hardesty said that that after receiving feedback from the members of the bureau and meeting department personnel, she decided to start with an internal search. "It was clear that there were many talented leaders within Portland Fire & Rescue already and I wanted to put my focus there," Hardesty said.
"Chief Boone impressed our interview panels with her commitment to community, her technical knowledge, her passion for the fire service, and her leadership style. Chief Boone is well-respected throughout the bureau and we have a great collaborative relationship. I know that she has the vision and experience to lead the bureau as it takes on new challenges. I am confident that she will make sure our city is safe and cared for under her watch."
Boone said she was "deeply honored" to be the new fire chief. "I hold in high esteem because of the men and women who serve with honor, integrity, and sacrifice," she said after the appointment. "My mission has always been caring for the city where I was raised. I am committed to ensuring that our responsiveness and our professionalism live up to the highest ideals of service, integrity, and equity."
Boone grew up in Northeast Portland and still lives in the city. She attended Lincoln High School and excelled as an athlete, earning all-state and all-American honors in track and field. She earned an athletic scholarship to Boise State University, where she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in secondary education. While completing her student teaching at Marshall High School, she had a chance encounter with a fire inspector who encouraged her to test for Portland Fire & Rescue's first firefighter apprenticeship program.
Boone and Interim Fire Chief Ryan Gillespie will work on a transition plan. A swearing in ceremony for Chief Boone is planned for the beginning of August.
Hardesty hired Myers to head the Bureau of Emergency Management in April. He had worked in emergency management in the Oregon Coast since resigning in January.
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