Pine Bend fire chief to retire after 27 years

Longtime Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery fire chief Pete Herpst is retiring after being a key part of the refinery’s fire department for more than a quarter century. Photo submitted
Longtime Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery fire chief Pete Herpst is retiring after being a key part of the refinery’s fire department for more than a quarter century.
Photo submitted

Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery announced this week the retirement of its longtime fire chief Pete Herpst, who is stepping down after being a key part of the refinery’s fire department for more than a quarter century.

The military veteran, handyman, and longtime volunteer firefighter joined the Pine Bend team in 1990. He managed a crew of 132 individuals, including 87 volunteers, who keep the refinery safe for its workforce and onsite contractors as well as assist local municipalities in responding to incidents. In addition, the Pine Bend refinery fire department provides free training sessions for firefighters from around the Midwest.

“This is a bittersweet day for me because it’s hard to say goodbye to the wonderful people at Pine Bend that I have been fortunate to collaborate with every day,” said Herpst, who lives in Prescott, Wis. “I’ve had a wonderful career and have accomplished so much thanks to the trust Flint Hills Resources placed in me. I’m looking forward to spending more time with family, friends, and in my woodshop of course.”

Herpst is known at Flint Hills for his commitment to training future generations of firefighters. Throughout his career, he regularly hosted firefighters from stations of all sizes to practice extinguishing fires, defensive cooling, and teamwork exercises.

“All of us here at the Pine Bend refinery extend our warmest wishes to Pete and our most heartfelt thanks for his 27 years of service,” said Geoff Glasrud, vice president and manufacturing manager of Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend. “Pete was instrumental in creating our fire training grounds, which has provided hundreds of free training session for thousands of firefighters from across the Midwest.”

Herpst will be replaced by veteran Flint Hills employee Ed Steele, who has worked at the Pine Bend refinery for nearly 20 years. Steele has worked in a variety of roles during his career at Pine Bend, including production specialist, shift safety, fire department battalion chief, refinery shift manager, and day process production manager.

Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery produces transportation fuels used throughout the Midwest, including most of Minnesota’s gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, as well as other products people rely on such as propane and asphalt.

Pine Bend has a capacity of 339,000 barrels per day and is among the cleanest, most efficient, and safest oil refineries in the country.

Flint Hills Resources directly and indirectly supports more than 4,000 Minnesota jobs and has invested nearly $1.7 billion on upgrades and improvements to its Minnesota facilities since 2010.

With 1,300 full-time employees, the Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery is one of the largest employers in Dakota County.