Westminster fire chief Doug Hall to retire

Luke Zarzecki
lzarzecki@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/18/22

Westminster Fire Chief Doug Hall remembers that the first engine he served on was a 1976 Ward LaFrance, with just two years of service when he started in 1978. Fast forward 43 years, the beloved …

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Westminster fire chief Doug Hall to retire

Posted

Westminster Fire Chief Doug Hall remembers that the first engine he served on was a 1976 Ward LaFrance, with just two years of service when he started in 1978.

Fast forward 43 years, the beloved chief notified city council on Jan 10 of his planned retirement for July 3. 

“The opportunity to lead the finest fire department in the nation was a job of a lifetime, but it is not meant to be a job for a lifetime. I am honored and proud to serve the community that I have called home for over four decades,” said Hall.

Hall became a firefighter because he flunked out of college. He was on the pre-med track because for his whole life, he wanted to become a doctor. In his teenage years, he decided to be a pediatrician. 

The motivation came from his grandfather and his brother, who both were doctors. He grew up in the small town Campbellsville, Kentucky and spent his summers with his grandfather, who would take him on rounds. 

As well, the drive came from how his family valued serving the community. In addition to his grandfather as a doctor, his father was a teacher, his son works for the Broomfield police and his daughter in law works for the City of Westminster. 

“I guess, inherited from my grandfather and my father, just service to others,” he said, describing his favorite part of being a firefighter. 

He took a job as a dispatcher and heard the stories from firefighters. From this, he grew his interest and started training to become a firefighter. Some jobs here and there, he ended up in Westminster and has lived in the same house ever since he moved. In June, he and his wife will be married for 39 years.

According to a press release from the City of Westminster, under Hall’s leadership, WFD was given an ISO Class 1 rating, the Center for Public Safety Excellence’s (CPSE) highest accreditation. Less than 300 agencies have received an ISO Class 1 accreditation nationally. Hall oversaw modernizing technology of the department and upgrading public safety telecommunication systems. Hall also developed new career pathways for future firefighters through a multi-agency firefighter academy and officer development program.

“Chief Hall’s legacy is a department of dedicated, talented professionals who serve Westminster to the highest standards in the nation,” said Interim City Manager Jody Andrews.

The press release also details how much Westminster has grown throughout his career. He started when Westminster was approximately 50,000 people, and now it stands at about 116,000. The fire department grew in parallel, from 19 employees to 143. 

Hall mentioned how the city has changed. 

“It’s become a mature city. I mean, we’re a suburb but we still have a lot of big city problems because we’re part of a larger metropolitan area,” he said.

With the conundrum as a suburb with big city problems, he sees opportunity for attacking those issues with creative solutions. Since bigger cities can devote specilized units to problems, smaller cities like Westminster have more of an opportunity for collaboration. 

“It gives us an opportunity to grow and develop our skill set differently than what they see in the big city,” he said. “Westminster as a government, as a city has never been afraid to move forward into the future.”

To connect the fire department to the community, he keeps the fire station overhead doors open to make residents feel they are open for them and there for them. 

“People’s at the heart of our business from a fire and EMS standpoint,” he said. 

He thinks that the fire department — and the city — need to make sure they are listening to the residents and respond to their needs. 

“(we need to) make sure we’re doing the right things for the right reasons for our community, you know, be responsive to understanding what the needs of the residents are,” he said. “You can’t keep delivering services tomorrow based upon what you assume is happening today.”

His least favorite part of serving on the fire department is seeing people burned out of their homes or their businesses. He said that people never mean for a fire to burn them out of their home, and businesses usually can’t come back after a fire. 

“It’s heart wrenching, it’s gut wrenching.”

As to advice for future and current firefighters, he says to learn and to share. 

“Always be a learner. Always look to share your time, your experiences,” he said. “Help each other to take care of each other.”

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