Portland Fire Chief Announces Retirement

Portland, Ore. — Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Sara Boone has announced her retirement from the department, with her last day being July 12, 2023.

Chief Boone began her career as a firefighter with Portland Fire & Rescue in 1995 and steadily progressed through various roles in Emergency Operations, including Lieutenant, Captain/Staff Captain, Battalion Chief, and Bureau Safety Chief. She also brought extensive executive-level experience, serving as the Deputy Chief of Logistics/Management Services Division and the Division Chief of Medical Services & Training.

During her tenure, Chief Boone guided Portland Fire & Rescue through a series of unprecedented challenges, including the global COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest for social justice, record-breaking wildfires, and the humanitarian crisis among the unhoused population. Under her leadership, the bureau introduced the Community Health Assess & Treat (CHAT) pilot program, providing relief to emergency responders by addressing lower-acuity medical calls.

Expressing her pride and gratitude, Chief Boone stated, “Considering all that we’ve faced over the past four years, I couldn’t be prouder and more honored to have closed out my career by leading one of the nation’s premier fire agencies.”

Commissioner Rene Gonzalez commended Chief Boone for her historic accomplishments as Portland’s first African American female fire chief. He acknowledged her leadership during challenging times and recognized her sacrifice and commitment to the Portland Fire Bureau, emphasizing the legacy of excellence and resilience she leaves behind.

Following Chief Boone’s retirement, Ryan Gillespie has been appointed as Interim Fire Chief by Commissioner Gonzalez. Chief Gillespie, who has been with Portland Fire & Rescue since 1998, has progressed through the ranks from Firefighter to Division Chief. He has held leadership positions in various divisions, including Medical Services & Training, Emergency Operations, and Community Health. Chief Gillespie previously served as the Interim Fire Chief for six months in 2019. He will lead the department until the city administrator assumes operational responsibility for Portland Fire & Rescue in 2025, as announced by Commissioner Gonzalez.