Medford Fire Chief Departs After More Than Two Decades of Service

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, March 18 2013 at 6:12 PM, Updated: Tue, March 19 2013 at 9:25 AM

It's being called a very sudden departure from the Medford Fire Department for Fire Chief Dave Bierwiler. According to several sources, it's a development even the fire chief himself didn't see coming.

Dave Bierwiler has been fire chief in Medford for nearly 24-years. City officials said last Friday, Medford Fire Chief Dave Bierwiler announced his retirement.

Bill Hoke, Deputy City Manager for the City of Medford said he could only assume the chief retired to spend more time on family and projects.

However, unlike other chiefs who have moved on, there's no celebration. It's a stark contrast to others who have left amid fanfare, recognition and awards.

"Every instance is different. Every individual is different. The circumstances are different," said Hoke.    

We were not told as to how those circumstances are different.

Several sources close to the chief have a different account of what happened on Friday. They claim Bierwiler visited the City Manager's Office where he was told it was "time to move on." Sources said his city cell phone was taken away and he was escorted from the building. We're told he never returned to his office and his staff was not notified until they received a cryptic one line memo later in the day.

City officials, however, maintain Chief Bierwiler made his own decision to retire, but do not know the reasons.

NBC 5 tried multiple times to reach out to Bierwiler but he did not speak with us in person or return our phone calls.

Chief Bierwiler's last day officially employed with the city will be April 30th. We're told he is taking accrued personal days off until then.

Meantime, Deputy Chief Gordon Sletmoe will be the Acting Fire Chief until city officials hire a new successor.

We're told Sletmoe himself is a finalist for a chief job in Bend, so it may soon be that the fire department will have entirely new leadership.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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