Portland officials have tapped a 23-year veteran of the city fire department to serve as interim fire chief and undertake a “complete assessment” of the department.

Assistant Fire Chief Keith Gautreau will take over as interim head of the Portland Fire Department after Fire Chief David Jackson retires at the end of the month. In addition to overseeing day-to-day operations in the fire department, Gautreau has been assigned by Portland City Manager Jon Jennings to conduct “a complete assessment of the fire department in order to make further progress on its modernization.”

Jennings has asked Police Chief Michael Sauschuck to work with Gautreau of the project.

“My goal in city government is to make sure that we have modern systems in place and that we are operating as efficiently as possible,” Jennings said in a statement announcing Gautreau’s appointment. “We’ve made some progress with the completion of the recent fire station study, but now I’m looking for information on other ways in which we can transform the department to ensure we’re ready for the needs of the future.”

Gautreau joined the department as a firefighter in 1995 and has moved up through the ranks since then, serving as first lieutenant, fire captain, deputy fire chief and assistant fire chief. He serves as a primary instructor in the city’s fire academy.

He will earn an annual salary of $106,000 as interim fire chief.

Jackson will retire later this month after 27 years with the department, the last two as fire chief.

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