Heriot officially Grand Forks fire chief

Dale Heriot has officially taken over as fire chief of Grand Forks Fire Rescue.

Dale Heriot has officially taken over as fire chief of Grand Forks Fire Rescue.

Dale Heriot has officially taken over as fire chief of Grand Forks Fire Rescue.

Dale Heriot has officially taken over for the retired Blair Macgregor as fire chief of Grand Forks Fire Rescue.

Macgregor retired on March 21.

Heriot, a 14-year veteran of the department, has worked his way up the ladder, starting off as a volunteer firefighter for nine years.

“An opening came up within the fire department for a training officer and of course it was still volunteer, so I expressed an interest as being a training officer with the department,” Heriot reminisced.

“As I worked into that, I got a lot more into how the department works and runs and that kind of thing and at that point, I thought I wouldn’t mind working my way up if I ever had the opportunity to become fire chief.”

Having worked with Macgregor for close to five years, there were some things that he was able to pick up from the former chief with patience and leadership being a few of the traits.

“Blair was one that was always one step ahead and especially during calls and things like that,” said Heriot. “The other thing I’ve learned is your most valuable assets, that is your volunteers, and you need to hold that close to you at all times.”

Heriot was on hand for the recent Grand Forks and Winnipeg hotel fires and he considers that incident, along with the fires at the Longhorn Hotel (now Clyde’s Pub) in 2000 and the apartment complex near City Park around 2001 as some of the worst situations he has been involved in.

“I guess the apartment over by City Park (was the worst) and that was mostly because there was quite a bit of interior attack,” he said. “Eventually, we had to go defensive and exterior. That one will get your adrenaline going.”

Heriot has learned a lot in his 14 years with the fire department and with all the blazes, he has learned some key lessons.

“The one common thing to learn from every single fire is how valuable our training is. To have constant training and varied training scenarios, where whatever’s thrown at you, you can set your game plan and conquer it,” said Heriot.

While it is merely coincidence, there seems to be a major fire when a new chief comes on and unfortunately for Heriot, that was the case with the hotel fires.

“The Grand Forks Hotel fire was my first big event as an incident commander,” explained Heriot.

“The interesting thing about the Grand Forks Hotel was the fact that we had the Winnipeg Hotel call at the same time.

I’ve never been in a situation where we’ve had to split our crews and our equipment coming in. Basically in a split second, you had to figure out which piece of equipment you needed for which address and split them up that way.”

Heriot gave credit to all the firefighters that assisted.

“I can’t really think of anything that went wrong or we could have done any better. (The firefighting) went like clockwork, I was impressed with the guys on that one.” he said.