Fire fighter makes political mark in Oregon House of Representatives

Rep. Dacia Grayber continues to advocate for the safety and well-being of fire fighters across the state during her second term as an Oregon legislator.

April 3 • 2024

Oregon State Representative Dacia Grayber (D-Portland) dreamed of wearing a fire fighter’s uniform as a child.  

Sixteen years later, her dream turned into a reality as a fire fighter and paramedic. She joined Bellingham/Whatcom County Professional Fire Fighters, Local 106 and later, Tualatin Valley, OR Local 1660, where she was the Chair of Equity and Inclusion. 

However, Grayber’s aspirations did not stop there. Expanding her horizons, she now represents House District 28, leaving a significant mark on Oregon’s political landscape. 

“I was deeply involved in union politics,” said Grayber. “Engaging in extensive labor advocacy, I never considered politics as a personal path until the former state representative suggested I run for office.” 

One of her first victories: expanding the list of cancer presumptions for fire fighters.  

“We had cancer presumptions in Oregon that we fought hard for, but it was fairly limited,” she said. “It didn’t include things like bladder cancer, which several of our members had, and then in discovery we realized it didn’t include female reproductive cancers, which is mindboggling.” 

In 2023, Grayber’s impact extended further with House Bill 2296, allowing retired members of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) to be reemployed by participating public employers for an unlimited number of hours without a reduction in pension benefits.  

It’s helped bridge the gap in hiring and staffing by allowing people to work back in their classification, sometimes in roles that are not as high risk and high stress.

rep. dacia grayber, house district 28

This year, Grayber helped push forward the Public Safety Workforce Stabilization Act (HB 4045) which awaits Governor Tina Kotek’s signature. 

“It’s a significant win for public safety workers across the state, and one of those wins is lowering the eligible age of retirement for fire fighters from 60 down to 55 for those that don’t yet have 25 years of service,” Grayber said. “A major benefit update like that is something many said we would not be able to get done. I am proud that we were able to pass it – and grateful for what it could mean to the lives of Oregon fire fighters all over the state.”

Local 1660 President Rocky Hanes called Grayber a “leader for change” in Oregon, improving benefits and working conditions for fire fighters throughout the state.  

“During her tenure, she has championed adding additional cancer protections to our cancer presumption, lowered the maximum retirement age for fire fighters and police officers, and secured funding for apprentice fire fighter programs,” said Hanes.

We are honored and proud to have her as a member of Tualatin Valley, OR Local 1660. 

rocky hanes, local 1660 president

Beyond her accomplishments in legislation, Grayber hopes her journey inspires the next generation of female fire fighters. 

“In diversifying the fire service, it’s about a broad range of experience,” she said. “Women bring something truly unique and make outstanding fire fighters. I’m proud to see the number of women I work with more than triple.”