The Portland City Council unanimously voted to accept $2.1 million in federal grant money at Wednesday’s meeting to fund the hiring of six additional Portland Fire and Rescue firefighters for the next three years.
The added firefighters, Portland Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Ryan Gillespie told the council, will staff the two positions that were previously cut from the budget during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The lost positions required PFR firefighters to work mandatory overtime — overtime that is currently costing the city approximately $20 million per year. These working conditions prompted the local firefighters union to file an unfair labor practice complaint against the city. The complaint was ultimately settled and the city agreed to apply for the FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response or “SAFER” grant in order to fill two missing engine crew positions at Station 23 in Southeast Portland.