By Jason B. Cutshaw
From The Mountaineer
For nearly 35 years, Fort Drum has helped keep America safe from harm, and for much of that time, one man has done his part to help keep Fort Drum safe.
Fire Chief Peter Queior said goodbye to the North Country community Friday at a breakfast in his honor as he stepped down as the post’s top fire fighter.
After serving in the Navy during the 1970s, Queior began working at Fort Drum in June 1980 as a temporary firefighter and promised to stay as long as they would have him.
“I told them to carve me a name on a headboard somewhere and I’ll stay,” he said. “I was born in the North Country; I loved it here and love the people. And I certainly admired our military heritage.”
As Fort Drum’s mission grew, Queior moved up in rank. He saw the North Country post change from training National Guard Soldiers to hosting the headquarters of the 10th Mountain Division (LI).
“I started out working in a small garage,” he said. “And to see where we were back then to the amazing growth we see now and have planned in the future is just remarkable.”
His many accomplishments and accolades in nearly 30 years of service include earning his associates degree in fire science; being named the 1999 Department of the Army Firefighter of the Year; and becoming the fourth person in New York to be designated chief fire officer in 2003.
Queior discussed the tremendous pride he has in Fort Drum Fire and Rescue S
ervices’ recent national accreditation, which numbered the organization along with the best the nation has to offer.
“I am oh so proud of the people who do all of the right things for this organization,” Queior said. “Everything I have done has been made possible by these great people who make me look good by the great things they do on a daily basis.
“It is because of them that we have gotten where we’ve come from to where we’re going,” he added.
The chief remarked that he would miss the Soldiers, Family Members and civilian workforce at Fort Drum who keep this community working and made his job an enjoyable endeavor.
“It is a real privilege to work around America’s heroes on a daily basis,” he said. “And now, it is time to step aside and enjoy what comes next. This can be a retirement, or it doesn’t have to be, and I am looking forward to it.”
He will be replaced as fire chief by Donald Striejewski on Nov. 8.
As Queior prepared to retire, his supervisor talked about him professionally and personally.
“Chief Pete Queior is a dedicated employee and family man,” said Joseph F. Margrey, director of emergency services. “He was an exceptional fire fighter. He is dedicated to his family and community, to his employees and to the fire service.
“I have never seen anyone with more passion for his chosen profession,” he added.
Margrey also talked about Queior’s work knowledge and leadership skills.
“Pete brought a knowledge of the fire and emergency service business that was second to none,” Margrey said. “His ability to address issues before they became serious was excellent. As a leader, he had the ability to build strong partnerships with the surrounding communities and a possessed a credibility that made Fort Drum and our DES look good.
“Pete provided a professionalism that represented this installation and the Army in a positive light,” he added.
Margrey also explained how the fire chief always spoke truth to power and ensured everyone around him did the right thing.
“Fort Drum will miss his professionalism, his knowledge of the fire and emergency service field and his candidness,” he said. “He always kept me in line and was a sounding board for a lot of issues.”
Margrey said there will be some big shoes to fill, and Queior’s experience and friendship will not easily be replaced.
“Pete will be missed,” he said. “He leaves us a little better than when he arrived, and he will always be ‘The Chief.’ I know I can always call him if I need something. I wish him well as he begins this new chapter in life.”
Also wishing “The Chief” off to a happy retirement were many of his peers and fellow rescue officers he has befriended and mentored through the years.
“I have known Chief Queior for 11 years; he has been my direct supervisor for six years,” said Jason R. Brunet, Fort Drum Fire and Emergency Services assistant fire chief. “He taught me to take the time to listen to your subordinate’s issues; we are here to support the Soldiers and their mission 100 percent; and that family comes first, and here in the fire department, we are a family.”
Brunet also spoke of Queior’s dedication and how he led by example in all he did.
“Chief Queior has always been on the front line; he is a supporter of the fire service and will always be remembered for his compassion for his chosen career,” Brunet said.
As Queior prepared to leave Fort Drum to start the next chapter in his life, true to form, he wanted to remind everyone about the value of fire detectors in the home.
“Only a working smoke detector saves lives,” Queior said. “I ask people to check theirs monthly. They give us a chance to save a building, but they give people a chance to save a life.”