As the incoming fire chief, Mike Heston hopes to keep morale high, keep traditions alive and form a relationship with the people of Pullman.
After Fire Chief Scott LaVielle resigned from his position due to his mother’s health, former operations officer Heston took over as the acting interim fire chief and will replace LaVielle permanently when LaVielle officially retires on Jan. 31. Darren Zemanek/The Daily Evergreen
“It was sad to see him (LaVielle) go, I really enjoyed working with him. He was very positive, upbeat and productive,” Heston said.
In taking over as fire chief, his main goals are “to carry on our traditions and the positive atmosphere,” he said. Keeping morale high among the firefighters is another goal, he said.
Heston also wants to continue to build a friendly relationship with the people of Pullman. He plans to regularly meet with citizens to develop the fire department’s relationship with the people.
A professional firefighter since 1983, Heston served as a volunteer firefighter before that. From 1985 to 1996 Heston worked as a campus firefighter, and since 1996 he has been the operations officer for the Pullman Fire Department.
During his career, he helped address many emergencies. A major highlight of his work was helping to save his first wife’s life with a defibrillator when she had a severe asthma attack, he said.
Heston attended WSU through the student resident program while working as a firefighter. He later graduated with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science with an emphasis in public administration.
He stays involved at WSU, leading an incident command system class and maintaining a position as board member in the Whitman County Fire Chiefs Association.
Heston has two children, Steve and Kim, with his wife Debbie. Steve is a WSU student and Kim is a school teacher.
He is active outside of his job in the Pullman community and has served as a leader in various organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Lions Club, he said. He also announces baseball games for Pullman High School.
He is looking forward to the new challenge of being the fire chief, he said. “All the challenges are an opportunity and I appreciate the opportunity that the mayor has given me,” he said.