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Grand Forks fire chief won’t be returning to work

The City would not say if the fire chief was fired or resigned from his position

Grand Forks fire chief Dale Heriot won’t be returning to work with the department, the city announced Thursday in a press release.

Heriot had been on paid administrative leave since May 10, after a volunteer firefighter with the department made allegations of bullying and harassment against him.

As recently as July 16, the city was working on a “return to work” plan for Heriot, but a city spokesperson told the Gazette Thursday that a decision was made within the past week to nix that plan. The City could not say why the decision was changed, citing HR policies on privacy.

Last spring, a third-party human resources investigation found that, “Through both the facts and findings it is evident that the complainant has experienced ‘patterns of social isolation’ instigated by the Fire Chief in an attempt to ‘humiliate and intimidate’ him,” according to a letter signed by the city’s chief administrative officer, Diane Heinrich.

READ MORE: Grand Forks fire department under investigation for alleged bullying and harassment

READ MORE: Grand Forks fire chief on paid leave amid bullying, harassment allegations

READ MORE: Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

According to the city, the consulting firm made a recommendation to Heriot during the external investigation that he allow the volunteer firefighter to be notified of and respond to calls – a role he suddenly disallowed in April. The investigation found that Heriot did not follow the “strong advice” to follow the recommendation.

Since being made aware of the fire chief allegedly excluding the complainant from calls, the fire department has apparently updated its policy on callouts to “ensure that it can be applied consistently to all members,” a spokesperson said.

Heriot joined Grand Forks Fire/Rescue more than 20 years ago as a volunteer.

Deputy Chief George Seigler, who has been in charge of the department since Heriot went on leave last May, will continue on as head of the department.