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Miguel Bautista joins the Scappoose Fire District as its first Latino chief officer.

SCAPPOOSE FIRE DISTRICT - The Scappoose Fire District has hired Miguel Bautista as its new division chief.

Scappoose Fire District has hired Miguel Bautista as a new division chief, joining Chief Jeff Pricher and Training Division Chief Josh Marks at the top of the district.

Bautista holds a Ph.D. in public safety, specializing in emergency management.

In an announcement of Bautista's hiring, the Scappoose Rural Fire Protection District said it "is making history with the appointment of Chief Bautista as its first LatinX chief officer."

Hispanic or Latino firefighters account for just 13.1% of firefighters, which is lower than Hispanic representation among police officers and other protective services, federal data shows.

Bautista joined the department on July 6, filling a position that had been left vacant since Pricher was promoted to fire chief more than a year ago.

Scappoose has traditionally had division chiefs who oversee separate aspects of fire operations, but Bautista's position isn't tied to a particular division.

The district is beginning the process of restructuring and creating a new strategic plan, Bautista said, so narrowing his role may come once that process is complete.

"There's a lot of things in the works for the future, so right now we're just filling the position, getting me up to speed," Bautista said.

"We want to make sure we can move around assignments to put the best people in the best places," he explained.

Bautista is an Oregon native. He grew up in Keizer. He has worked in Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

Since starting his career in a small fire district, Bautista said he's been drawn to "the true family environment of the agency, the fact that in your role you wear many different hats."

The role in Scappoose is one that will allow Bautista to gain new skills and capitalize on the knowledge and skills he's developed throughout his career, he said, which includes 16 years of volunteer and professional firefighting experience and degrees in fire services and emergency management.

"It was exciting, because even though we're a small district, we're going to be doing big things," Bautista said of accepting the Scappoose job.

Bautista said Pricher takes fire prevention seriously and wants to be involved in outreach and education.

"To me, that's very refreshing, and something that I'm passionate about as well," Bautista said.

Bautista said he hopes to do more community outreach in the area. He is fluent in Spanish, which the fire district said will allow it to expand services for Spanish-speaking residents.

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