After serving Sandy Fire for 37 years, the past 13 as chief, Gary McQueen is leaving

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: STEVEN WOLF - Sandy Fire Chief Gary McQueen is seen emerging from work as a firefighter. McQueen also is a paramedic who often assists on calls for traffic crashes. McQueen has resigned, effective Thursday, March 28.Sandy Fire Chief Gary McQueen has announced his resignation and retirement from the Sandy Fire Department, effective Thursday, March 28.

McQueen has served the Sandy Fire District for 37 years. Last week, Chief McQueen told Fire District Board President Len Tobias he plans to take some time before deciding whether to retire or to seek other opportunities.

But by Saturday, McQueen told the Post that he is not retiring from the fire service.

While I am leaving this position in Sandy,” he said, “I am not retiring from the fire service. I have opportunities to continue my service and I am considering several right now.”

Tobias said Michael Hansen would serve as acting fire chief, while the board manages the transition. A special board meeting has been scheduled at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 28, in the Fire Department Annex, 17459 Bruns Ave., to discuss the fire chief transition.

Hansen will focus on administrative functions and staff support. Chief Hansen retired from Douglas County Fire District 2 in 2011 after moving through the ranks of division chief, assistant chief and, beginning in 1991, fire chief.

Sandy’s deputy chief, Phil Schneider, who has been with the district for 35 years, will continue to focus on operations and service delivery to the community.

Chief McQueen began serving the citizens of Sandy in 1976 as a member of Sandy High School’s Firefighter Club. When he was 18, he became a volunteer firefighter. That was in 1980 and about the time he began attending Chemeketa Community College’s fire science program.

He became a career firefighter for Lake Oswego in 1983, where he rose through the ranks to the position of battalion chief. He also remained as a volunteer with Sandy Fire and was made a part-time career battalion chief in 1992.

He was named fire chief of the Sandy Fire District in March of 2000. He is currently second vice-president of the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association.

During his tenure, McQueen has promoted cost-saving innovations, which have included partnering with neighboring fire districts such as Boring, Estacada and Hoodland.

Among his achievements, Chief McQueen cited the establishment of a swift water rescue team, gaining almost $750,000 in grants to Sandy Fire and the emergency communications system upgrades as well as cooperative efforts in the area of emergency preparedness with the city of Sandy and the Oregon Trail School District.

Chief McQueen said he is looking forward to new opportunities and challenges and will miss his relationships with those in the Sandy Fire Department.

“I know that both the employees and the volunteers that I leave behind will continue to provide excellent service to the community,” he said.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve my community alongside my firefighters for the last 37 years. Sandy’s firefighters are highly skilled and well prepared and will continue to do a great job of protecting this community.”

Tobias expressed the board’s appreciation for McQueen's service to the citizens of the fire district and said the board, “wishes the chief the best in his future endeavors.”

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