New Portland Fire & Rescue chief talks opportunities, goals, fir - KPTV - FOX 12

New Portland Fire & Rescue chief talks opportunities, goals, firefighter DUII policy

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New Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Mike Myers. (Photo: KPTV) New Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Mike Myers. (Photo: KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Portland’s new fire chief said discussions are underway to addresses DUII problems within the bureau, but he’s not committing to any policy just yet.  

Chief Mike Myers retired as fire chief for the city of Las Vegas in 2013 after a 26-year career with the department. Upon retirement, he spent time traveling with his wife before returning to work as fire chief for the city of St. Charles, Missouri. 

Myers said he’s both thrilled and honored to be working in Portland. 

He told FOX 12 he already has a list of goals as Portland’s fire chief. He believes that it is his personal mission to be responsible for the health and safety of everyone in Portland.

Myers is the second person ever to be selected as chief from outside Portland Fire & Rescue. He said he’s hoping to bring a fresh perspective to the Rose City.

“I have a system in the way that I manage the budget that is very detailed and everybody within the top part of organization, really all the way down to the firefighters, will have a role in managing the budget," Myers said. 

He’s only been on the job since June 30, but Myers said he’s making the rounds to each fire station in town to listen to firefighters and learn about the issues they’re experiencing every day.

“We have this huge movement of people that have retired from the fire bureau,” said Myers. “So, we’re left with a very young fire bureau, and those two combinations mean we are ripe for opportunities here. There is an opportunity to make some significant changes if we want to.”

Part of the change, Myers said, will be in the bureau’s DUII policy. 

FOX 12 was investigating the case of a fire captain who had been arrested three times for driving under the influence back in 2015. At the time, former Fire Chief Erin Janssens said she could only issue a serious demotion to that captain, and she was developing a "two strikes and you’re out" policy for the future. However, that never happened.  

Since then, FOX 12 has learned another Portland firefighter was arrested in May for driving drunk for the second time. He retired soon after.

“I think the fire service in general has a cultural issue that I think needs to be addressed across the country, and it boils down to the fact this this is a difficult job. I think the things they see and do out there people don’t know and understand,” said Myers.

Myers said something must be done to address the issue, though he’s not quite sure what that policy will be. 

“We can write a DUII policy, but my caution is, there are a multitude of things you can dream up that an employee may, or may not do that will end up at the magnitude of a DUII. There are many things that will lead to misdemeanors that are embarrassing and inappropriate and there’s no way you can write a policy for each type of thing, or else you’ll always be writing a policy," he said. 

Myers said above all else he wants to aggressively tackle the problem from a prevention standpoint.

“It’s not about the discipline, or none of us would do anything wrong. The fact is that if we’re sick and somebody is sick we need to step up well before it gets to the point that someone gets in a car after they’ve been drinking and does something ridiculous," he said. 

Portland Fire & Rescue leaders report that Myers has earned a reputation as a progressive industry-leading fire chief with an innovative approach to the complex safety and wellness issues facing communities. 

Myers also reportedly managed a $110 million budget while he was chief in Las Vegas, and was directly accountable for the protection of millions of residents, visitors and high-profile commercial and historical assets.  

He commanded 20 fire stations and more than 650 employees who provided fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials incidents, bomb squad and fire investigations, technical rescue operations, fire prevention and life safety education, as well as 911 fire and EMS call center services. 

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