Permits for open burning of yard debris remain suspended in response to the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus.
Fire danger is also on the increase as temperatures warm up for spring. Recent fires in our area have been caused by backyard debris burning.
Despite the moratorium on permits for burning yard debris, campfires for recreation and warming, as well as some agricultural burning, are still allowed.
Some burning still is allowed:
Campfires. Small fires for warming or recreational purposes are allowed. Contain fires in a pit or ring, burn only wood and make sure the fire is thoroughly extinguished before leaving it for the night.
Some agricultural burning, including the burning of seasonal trimmings from orchards and vineyards as well as burning related to cleanup of existing cropping systems is allowable. Burning debris (logs/brush) from land clearing operations is not permitted at this time.
No permit is necessary for a burn barrel fire; however, barrels must have a proper fitting screen or lid, holes no larger than three-quarters of an inch in size, and rest on nonflammable material extending 3 feet on all sides.
Burn permit information for the SHAES area can be found at – http://www.shaes.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=public:permits
The City of South Haven is making plans to ensure continuity of services including police, fire, medical, electricity, water and wastewater functions should there be an outbreak of COVID-19 in the South Haven area.
We encourage citizens to be well informed and well prepared for a possible outbreak in this area, but to also be cautious not to overreact and to confirm any information received to ensure its reliability.
We encourage our citizens to reduce possible exposure by making use of the City’s online payment process and the City’s drop box at the rear parking lot of City Hall to make payments.
Residents may contact the City by calling (269) 637-0700 with questions or concerns about city services or by checking the City Facebook page “City of South Haven – Communications Department”.
We urge you to limit your movements throughout the city. The City of South Haven is monitoring both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to track national COVID-19 activity. The City is also monitoring local public health agencies as well as tracking information from the State of Michigan and surrounding counties.
SHAES is partnering with the American Red Cross in encouraging residents to have working smoke detectors. The Red Cross has a program where they will install free of charge smoke detectors in residences. If you already have smoke detectors, please test them and replace the batteries on a regular basis. Area residents interested in the free smoke alarm program can call the Southwest Michigan Red Cross at 269-353-6180, ext. 7181 to schedule an in-home visit. Read a Herald Palladium article – https://www.heraldpalladium.com/news/local/free-smoke-alarms-available-through-red-cross/article_f65bab10-93d1-52ed-98ef-07ba25a754a8.html
South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) responded to more than 2,000 calls for the seventh consecutive year, according to the department’s Annual Report for 2019.
The SHAES Authority serves the city of South Haven and the townships of Casco, Geneva and South Haven from three stations. During 2019 the agreement creating the SHAES Authority was extended for another 25 years.
“The SHAES staff is grateful to the community for its ongoing support,” said Chief Ronald Wise. “We remain committed to providing quality emergency service to our area.”
The 2,171 responses were the fourth highest in department history. The all-time record is 2,276 in 2016. In 2018 the department responded to 2,085 calls.
There were 701 fire alarm responses and 1,470 medical calls in 2019. There were 1,036 responses in the city of South Haven, followed by 437 in South Haven township, 306 in Geneva township and 325 in Casco township. SHAES provided mutual aid to other fire departments on 57 occasions and received assistance 15 times.
Total property losses from fire in 2019 totaled $1,872,463, including $1,087,272 in residential fires. Casco township experienced the biggest residential fire loss ($664,000), followed by the city of South Haven ($148,050), Geneva township ($142,122) and South Haven township ($133,100). Most of the residential fire losses came from three major blazes, two in Casco township and one in the city.
The department was particularly busy in the area of water-related incidents with several rescues needed on Lake Michigan. There was one drowning. The staff also worked with Emergency Management officials in Allegan and Van Buren Counties developing shoreline emergency responses.
There were no civilian fire-related injuries or injuries in 2019. There were three incidents in which a firefighter was injured either at an emergency scene or other work-related occurence
The department is comprised of 15 fulltime staff and 28 paid-on-call firefighters protecting 121 square miles from three stations. The department continued an expanded community-wide pre-planning and inspection program. The staff conducted inspections or related tests at 917 locations in the SHAES coverage area. That included 644 short-term rental inspections over the year.
Chief Wise announced during 2019 his intention to retire after 31 years of service at SHAES, including as chief since 2008, effective September 30, 2020. A search for his successor is underway.
The department continued its active public education programs with safety presentations to people at schools, senior living facilities, businesses and to civic groups. An estimated 500 children and adults attended the annual Fire Safety Fun Night.
Click here for 2019 Annual Report – http://www.shaes.org/dokuwiki/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=public:shaes_2019_annual_report.pdf
SHAES first responders now have much more capable commercial cleaning equipment that decontaminates carcinogens from bunker gear and prevents cross contamination with other laundry thanks to the support of local businesses and the ingenuity of members of the department.
Studies have shown an association between cancer risk and being a firefighter. After exposure to even routine firefighting, bunker gear can contain carcinogens that may be absorbed through contact or inhaled. Awareness of this increased cancer risk brought a desire by the SHAES leadership to improve upon gear-cleaning.
Each of the three SHAES stations now has industrial washers built especially for the purpose of cleaning the gear. In addition, the staff has built drying equipment saving the department significant expenses that would have been incurred by purchasing commercial products.
“The safety of our first responders is our highest priority,” said Fire Chief Ronald Wise. “We determined that a systematic approach to cleaning turnout gear would be the best remedy for providing this safeguard. We grateful to our contributors whose acknowledgement of this need brought it to reality.”
Lovejoy, Inc., through the Timken Foundation, has awarded SHAES a $20,000 grant. The Timken Foundation awards grants to non-profit agencies that operate in communities in which the Timken Company has facilities. Lovejoy, Inc. has had a plant in South Haven since 1960. The company is a supplier of couplings, power transmissions, hydraulic components and rubber suspension technology.
Albemarle is a global supplier of specialty chemicals. It has been located in South Haven since 1976. The Albemarle Foundation was launched as a means to power the giving potential of its employees. Each site has its own Foundation Council who share a wide view of a community’s needs and oversee diverse programs of philanthropic opportunities. Albemarle's contribution to the project is $10,000.
Entergy Corporation, owner of the Palisades nuclear plant which has operated in Covert Township since 1971, has contributed $5,000. Entergy is a Fortune 500 integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations.
Employees of Sturgis Bank and Trust donated $450 to the project. The second Friday of each month is dedicated as “Jean Day” at the bank. For a donation of $5 employees can wear jeans that day. Each month a different branch of the bank can determine the beneficiary of their contribution. Sturgis Bank and Trust has two of its 12 branches in South Haven.
The project cost of $42,000 funded equipment purchases and meeting plumbing and electrical requirements. The SHAES staff also contributed to the project by sponsoring fund-raising pancake breakfasts.
Firefighter/Paramedic Paul Quinn has been promoted to the rank of Fire Captain for South Haven Area Emergency Services. Paul will oversee day-to-day operations for his shift as well as assume responsibilities as the department training officer, according to Chief Ron Wise.
Paul has served the South Haven community for 26 years, first with the former Casco Fire Department and for 18 years as a fulltime SHAES firefighter-paramedic. He is a second generation firefighter, serving with his firefighter father, Jim Quinn. He is certified as a Level 1 Fire Instructor for the State of Michigan and has headed the SHAES fire prevention education bureau for that last 16 years. In 2019 he was chosen by his peers as the department's Firefighter of the Year.
The Scott Club recently completed the installation of a state-of-the-art fire detection system at their historic building. SHAES staff participated in the planning for the installation of this system. The stately Queen Anne style building, constructed in 1893, is a Michigan historic site. The fire detection system facilitates the notification of the fire department thru an alarm company. This project was made possible through grants from the Rotary Club of South Haven and the Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation. This is the second installation of a fire detection system in a historically important building in our community. The first was at the Historical Association of South Haven (formerly Hartman School) in 2017.