Looking For A Past Portland Firefighter?
Are you wondering about a relative or other person who may have been a Portland Firefighter over the past 170 years or so? Maybe this web site can help. If you have a name, we probably have it catlogued in the archives. Contact us by the e-mail link below and see if there is more to their story.
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The backbone of Portland Fire & Rescue has always been the front line firefighter. More than 5,000 people have served in this capacity since the department placed its first crew into service in 1853. However, leadership is necessary to complete the package. Fire Chiefs make up this leadership, in particular, the Chief Engineer.
The term Chief Engineer was coined in the very beginnings of the department. In the early 1850s, Portland established a fire commission to choose a Chief Engineer to head up the department. The term would change to "Chief" when the Portland Fire Department" became the "Portland Paid Fire Department," but the concept was the same.
The PDF below provides a list of all Chiefs who have led Portland Fire since it began in 1853. Some held the position more than once. Four Chiefs served in both the Portland Fire Department AND Portland Paid Fire Department eras. One, David Campbell, would serve two terms as Chief because his position was interrupted by political strife.
The Fire Marshals of Portland carry significant power to make or break the business structure of the city. To this end, it had been a civil service position from 1914 until recent years, in the early 2000s to insulate it from political influence. Why the change? Unknown.
Established March 18, 1914, the Fire Prevention Division has grown and evolved into a comprehensive and professional discipline within the fire service. The PDF below is a list of all those who have led the division since 1914.
David Kingsley is one of the most heroic stories to be found among Portland Firefighters. His heroism, however, was not for fighting a fire. It occurred during World War II. Many Portland Firefighters were deployed into service during various wars. During WWII, it was estimated that almost half of all Portland Firefighters spent some time in military service. It should be no surprise that the same time period accounts for quite a few line of duty deaths during firefighting service. David Kingsley did not serve long with Portland Fire, but his story is an amazing tale.
One PDF tells his abbreviated tale. The second is written by his sister and tells of his military career and the events of World War II that led to the fateful day when David would lose his life.
Jeff Morris was a unique and dynamic character of Portland Fire whose life was cut short by cancer. He was a pioneer in public education and became known as Portland Fire's "Ambassador to Goodwill." Read his story in the PDF below.
Jay W. Stevens
Jay W. Stevens came to work for Portland Fire in 1904. He would quickly advance, eventually becoming the first Fire Marshal of the city. He would take his prevention ethic to a national level, eventually becoming known nationally as the "Father of Fire Prevention." Read his story here.