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Fire chief gets widespread support


Even after the honeymoon period, Borings interim chief is well liked by all personnel

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - POST PHOTO: JIM HART Boring Interim Fire Chief Brian Stewart stands near one of the engines housed in the Boring main station. The fire board has not yet decided if it wants to offer the permanent fire chief position to Stewart or begin a national search.Brian Stewart was hired last August to fill the operations division chief position at Boring Fire and Rescue.

Seven workdays later, he was sitting behind the fire chief’s desk, directing the entire department as acting fire chief — appointed by the fire board after former chief Doug Branch decided to retire.

Being a fire chief was a career goal for Stewart, just not this soon. He said he came to Boring to be operations chief, but accepted the September promotion from acting chief to interim chief after a few weeks on the job.

Stewart was amazed by the amount of support he received from office staff as well as career and volunteer firefighters. It was that high level of support that led to his decision to accept the interim chief position.

Stewart paraphrased their words: “We’re here to make you successful; you’ve got our support,” he said he heard from all office, career and volunteer personnel.

That support came almost immediately after Stewart began working at Boring Fire. He called it the “honeymoon period,” but that support has continued even after he has been at Boring for six months.

Prior to his hiring, everyone had done “homework,” Stewart said. He had researched the Boring fire department before applying for the open position, and both the union and the fire board had investigated Stewart’s past with several fire departments in Washington, Oregon and the Bay Area of California.

All were satisfied with what they learned. Obviously the board was satisfied because Stewart was hired, and Stewart said he was satisfied with what he learned about Boring before arriving.

“The rapport and seamless operations between career and volunteer firefighters here is the best I have worked with,” he said. “The skill level of the volunteers is higher across the board from what I’ve seen, and the camaraderie here is exceptional.”

Stewart admits it takes a while to become familiar with the way operations are handled in a new department, but he quickly became impressed with Boring firefighters’ abilities and self-motivation.

“I haven’t questioned from day one about whether the guys are doing their jobs,” he said. “When the bell rings, they put down what they are doing and run to the engines — and that’s not the case in every fire department.”

Boring has a highly respected reputation that goes beyond this community. And it took someone like Stewart working in a distant community to hear about Boring in advance of applying for a job here.

“They (firefighters in a distant fire department) were impressed with Boring,” Stewart said, “and they were looking at Boring’s example of a strong relationship between volunteers and career firefighters.”

Stewart says he likes the Boring fire department partly because it has both career and volunteer firefighters instead of just career personnel (he has served at both types of departments).

He likes the Boring community because it’s small and easier to become involved in community activities than it was in the large departments where he has served.

Fire board members are likely to consider what they are going to do about a permanent fire chief within a couple of months. The board’s choice is to either offer the position to Stewart or begin a national or regional search.

For his part, Stewart, likes what he is doing each day, and hopes he is given the choice of being the permanent fire chief.

“I’m enjoying the department,” he said, “and wherever I end up, I will be happy.”