Fire Chief Mike Beaver announces retirement

Sean C. Morgan

Fire Chief Mike Beaver has announced that he will retire July 1, but he will stay on one more year on a temporary contract.

He can work on a temporary contract for 1,040 hours per year, so he will be able to stay on full time through June 30, 2014, with 2,080 hours divided between two calendar years.

With rates for the Public Employees Retirement System so high, it will save the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District some $26,000, Beaver said.

“I’m just ready to retire,” Beaver said. “Certainly, the threat of some of the PERS legislation being kicked around is a factor also.”

After more than 41 years working, Beaver will be 60 when he calls it quits, he said. “I just want to go fishing, go hunting, spend time with grandkids, use my boat and drive my ’57 Chevy. It’s time to relax. I still like the job, love the fire department.”

Beaver worked at Willamette Industries for 18 years prior to entering the fire service. He started in the fire service in Sweet Home. He worked in Albany before returning to Sweet Home where he became a battalion chief and then succeeded Dean Gray as fire chief.

In other business, the Fire and Ambulance District has received a $60,000 Firefighter Assistance Grant, Beaver said. “Right after 9/11, the federal government realized emergency services, including police and fire, were lacking in a lot of equipment.”

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District has applied for one of the grants every year since then, he said.

“We’ll be purchasing firefighter turnouts and other personal protection equipment, which is a huge boost for us right now,” Beaver said. “It will equip more than half of our firefighter force with new turnouts.”

The district has been lagging on replacing turnouts in recent years because it has had to prioritize purchasing narrow band radio equipment, Beaver said.

Those purchases are complete now, he said, and the district was going to purchase 10 new sets of turnouts this spring. He had held off purchasing those until he received word on the grant, which will provide 30 sets.

The district has some turnout gear between 8 and 10 years old, Beaver said. The district has been refurbishing turnouts in recent years instead of purchasing new ones.

The new turnouts also will provide new backup gear, he said. “That’ll be a good boost to the department.”