Grand Forks’ fire chief is leaving the department to serve out his career where it began.
George Seigler, who started as a volunteer firefighter in Courtenay, took over Grand Forks Fire/Rescue in November 2019. He finishes there on Oct. 7, after which he’s due to start as the Courtenay Fire Department’s newest Dep. Chief of Operations.
“To me, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” he told The Gazette Wednesday, Sept. 15, explaining that he’d grown up in Courtenay, where he said most of his family still lives.
But after three and a half years at the department, he said it won’t be easy to walk away.
Like so many department members, he was on the ground for pivotal moments in Grand Forks Fire/Rescue’s history — including and especially the 2018 freshet. He worked alongside the crew — volunteers and commanding officers — nearly every day from the time the surge hit in mid-May until the flood receded one month later.
“I had one day off within that time, and I remember feeling guilty that I was able to mow my lawn,” he said.
He went on to become a supportive and easy-going boss, leading the department with Dep. Chief Rich Piché for nearly a year before Dep. Chief Stephane Dionne joined the top ranks.
“We were in the trenches for a while there, just me and him,” Piché said.
Returning the compliment, which no doubt extended to Dionne as well, Seigler said, “I can walk away knowing the department’s in good hands.”
Praising his volunteer crew, Seigler was not nearly at a loss for words.
“I can’t say enough about them. They’re dedicated and committed and they’re very professional.”
Mayor Brian Taylor said that, while he was sorry to see Seigler go, the Chief had given more than fair warning before he put in his papers.
“He hasn’t left us slack-footed on this,” Taylor noted, adding that city management would be hiring a replacement soon enough.