The first female African American firefighter in Portland history has been promoted to become Fire Chief for Portland Fire and Rescue, another glass ceiling shattered.
Fire Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty appointed Division Chief Sara Boone as Fire Chief of Portland Fire and Rescue last week. She has been with the department for 24 years, rising through the ranks from entry-level firefighter.
Boone spent the majority of her career in emergency operations before transitioning into assignments as the Bureau’s Safety Chief, Logistics Deputy Chief, and currently, the Division Chief of Medical Services and Training.
“Chief Boone impressed our interview panels with her commitment to community, her technical knowledge, her passion for the fire service, and her leadership style,” said Commissioner Hardesty. “Chief Boone is well-respected throughout the bureau and we have a great collaborative relationship. I know that she has the vision and experience to lead the bureau as it takes on new challenges. I am confident that she will make sure our city is safe and cared for under her watch.”
In 1995, Chief Boone became the first African-American female firefighter to enter the ranks of Portland Fire & Rescue since its inception in 1883 and will become the first African-American Fire Chief for the city.
Chief Boone was raised in northeast Portland and still calls Portland her home. She attended Lincoln High School and excelled as an athlete, earning all-state and all-American honors in track and field. She earned an athletic scholarship to Boise State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education. While completing her student teaching at Marshall High School, she had a chance encounter with a fire inspector who encouraged her to test for Portland Fire & Rescue’s first firefighter apprenticeship program.
“I am deeply honored to be the next Fire Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue, a bureau I hold in high esteem because of the men and women who serve with honor, integrity, and sacrifice.” says Chief Boone. “My mission has always been caring for the city where I was raised. I am committed to ensuring that our responsiveness and our professionalism live up to the highest ideals of service, integrity, and equity.”
When Commissioner Hardesty first took office in January, she planned to execute a national search for the fire bureau’s next chief. After receiving feedback from the members of the bureau and meeting department personnel, she decided to start with an internal search.
“It was clear that there were many talented leaders within Portland Fire & Rescue already and I wanted to put my focus there,” Hardesty said.
A swearing in ceremony for Chief Boone is planned for the beginning of August.