PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — According to a memo obtained by KOIN 6 News, the Portland fire chief says the bureau must stop spending money for several months, which means no more hiring and no purchasing new equipment.

The new order came at the direction of Portland City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez.

In the memo, Fire Chief Sarah Boone said if spending isn’t paused the bureau will overspend its budget before the end of the fiscal year.

According to commissioner Gonzalez’s office, in this fiscal year alone, Portland Fire has spent up to $25 million in overtime.

Those budget constraints outlined in the memo sent out Monday said:

  • All recruiting will be paused or stopped
  • Any expense larger than $5,000 will require advance approval
  • No vehicles can be purchased or replaced without prior approval

The memo goes on to say that they anticipate the financial condition will remain challenging going into the fiscal year 2023-2024. Some of the measures may also be carried over beyond June 2023.

KOIN 6 spoke with Rick Graves from Portland Fire and Rescue about how the cost-cutting will impact staffing at each fire station, he said it won’t.

“We know that boots on the ground will always be paid for, it’s a matter of unexpected material purchases through this budget cycle that will have to be evaluated,” said Graves.

KOIN 6 reached out to commissioner Gonzalez’s office for comments and received the following statement:

Commissioner Gonzalez’s decision to impose a temporary spending curtailment is aimed at preserving frontline services while letting the commissioner and fire bureau leadership closely monitor any and all discretionary and non-essential spending.

KOIN 6 also reached out to the firefighters union for comment but has not heard back.