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MailTribune.com
  • Medford fire chief retires

  • Medford Fire Chief Dave Bierwiler abruptly announced his retirement Friday, but didn't disclose the reasons for his departure.
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  • Medford Fire Chief Dave Bierwiler abruptly announced his retirement Friday, but didn't disclose the reasons for his departure.
    "I don't want to at this point," he said. "It is not a health issue."
    Bierwiler, 63, has served as fire chief for 23 years. Deputy Fire Chief Gordon Sletmoe has become acting fire chief.
    Bierwiler said he has personal reasons for leaving and said he is not prepared to discuss those reasons at this point.
    He has decided to take personal time off until his last day of employment with the city on April 30.
    Bierwiler said he's proud of his service to the community and the accomplishments of his department.
    "We have an outstanding group of people and an outstanding department, and we do a good job for the citizens of Medford," he said.
    Since joining the department, Bierwiler said it has only added five employees despite the population gains in recent years. The fire department has 82 employees.
    "If you look at comparable size cities in Oregon, we have one of the best tax bargains in the state," he said.
    Prior to joining Medford fire, Bierwiler was a fire chief in Colorado for six years. He has been fire chief in Medford since he was hired in 1989.
    A Medford resident, Bierwiler said he will likely move to Colorado to be closer to his 9-year-old grandson.
    Sletmoe, who was the first person Bierwiler hired for the department in 1992, said he didn't want to discuss the reasons for Bierwiler's departure.
    "It's his story to tell, and he's going to tell as much as he is comfortable with," Sletmoe said.
    Sletmoe credited Bierwiler with providing him with the opportunities for advancement over the years.
    "He gave me the latitude to grow," he said. "He's very caring, very outgoing, very easy to get along with."
    Even though he is acting fire chief, Sletmoe said he hasn't made any decisions whether he will seek to make the job permanent.
    "Right now, honestly, I'm just more concerned about a smooth transition," he said.
    — Damian Mann
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