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Commissioner Hardesty Asks Mayor Wheeler to Support Fire & Rescue Staffing, Preserve RRV Program, & Prevent Cuts in Upcoming Fall BMP

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After years of pushing back against station closures and budget cuts, the time to invest in Portland Fire & Rescue is decades overdue.

Working with Portland Fire & Rescue, an independent staffing study was recently completed and presented to council during a public work session.

The Citygate study proved we have a staffing shortage at Portland Fire & Rescue, and provided a data driven roadmap for rectifying staffing and service issues.

Since I became the Commissioner in charge of Portland Fire & Rescue over 3 years ago, I’ve seen how firefighters and all members of the bureau step up to perform whatever task they are asked to do as Portland has endured crisis after crisis,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “It’s time for the Portland City Council to step up and have their back. This is about the safety of all Portlanders.

The Fall BMP (Budget Monitoring Process) request from Portland Fire & Rescue asks Mayor Wheeler to follow the data by including the following in his proposed Fall BMP package:

Authorize 13 Firefighter Positions for Hire

The Citygate study made it clear we need more firefighters to provide Portlanders the safety and services they deserve. The process of hiring and training new firefighters takes time, so we are requesting authorization of 13 new full-time firefighter positions in this Fall BMP so we can begin recruitment.  

Restore Funding for the Rapid Response Vehicle Program

A budget note included by Mayor Wheeler during the last fiscal year would reduce funding in Portland Fire & Rescue by over $3 million by cutting 4 Rapid Response Vehicles and 23.5 firefighter positions from their current budget.

If Council follows this budget note, it will cause significant disruption and undercut the gains we are making in right sizing Fire & Rescue to meet service demands. Eliminating this program will degrade our service significantly, worsen our already critical staffing issues, and cause us to lose the recently approved federal SAFER Grant that will fund an additional 6 new firefighters and allow us to fully reopen Station 23 in Southeast Portland for the first time in decades. We are asking Mayor Wheeler to rescind this budget note in the Fall BMP.