Portland Fire Captain with Three DUIs Demoted to Firefighter

A Portland fire captain convicted this year of driving drunk while off-duty — the third time since 2006 — will be demoted to firefighter with a 33 percent drop in pay, reports oregonlive.com.

Fire Chief Erin Janssens signed a five-year last chance agreement for Capt. Robert Hutchens that states if Hutchens is involved in another drunken driving case or any other problems arise, he’ll face firing.

Janssens declined comment on the case. 

But she sent a memo called “Good Decisions II” to Fire Bureau members on Wednesday morning, alerting them that the bureau is working to develop guidelines for handling discipline in future drunken driving cases.

Read “Good Decisions II” document

The bureau has no such guidelines now and sanctions have been inconsistent, the chief said.

“We never imagined the violation would occur repeatedly,” she said.

The memo follows one issued in August that urged members to drive responsibly.

In Hutchens’ case, the bureau didn’t discipline him after his first two DUII cases, other than temporarily preventing him from driving any fire apparatus or collecting apparatus operator’s premium pay. Hutchens was referred to a second-chance diversion program after his first DUII arrest in 2006. He was convicted in the second and third DUII cases.

The lack of earlier discipline hampered the city’s efforts to fire Hutchens after his third DUII conviction this year, because officials suspected he likely would get his job back if he challenged the firing before a state arbitrator, said Dan Saltzman, who serves as fire commissioner.

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