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2021 Year in Review

SHAES Has Record Year in 2020

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) responded to a record number of calls during 2020 according to the department’s Annual Report. Responses totaled 2,358 compared to 2,171 in 20l9. The previous record had been 2,276 in 2016.

“Our call volume showed a significant increase in medical-related responses,” said executive director Brandon Hinz. “Even with the restrictions and hurdles that had to be endured due to the COVID pandemic, our staff remained committed to providing quality service to our residents and visitors.”

There were 1,730 calls on the medical side compared to 1,470 in 2019. Fire alarms were down from 701 to 628. SHAES has responded to more than 2,000 calls in each of the past eight years.

See 2020 Annual Report –

There were 995 calls in the city of South Haven followed by South Haven township 535, Geneva township 398 and Casco township 337. SHAES provided mutual aid to other fire departments on 93 occasions and received assistance 30 times.

Property losses from fire totaled $422,600, a significant decline from the $1,872,463 reported in 2019. The largest property loss occurred in Geneva township ($251,100) followed by Casco township ($95,000), city of South Haven ($55,700) and South Haven township ($20,800).

Hinz credited the property loss reduction to an active inspection program which made nearly 560 contacts, including 398 short-term rental contacts during the year.

The department was again busy in the area of water-related incidents on Lake Michigan and in the Black River. There were three drownings and 10 water related rescues.

There were no civilian fire-related injuries or deaths in 2020. There were six incidents in which a responder was injured either at an emergency scene or other work-related occurence.

Hinz became executive director (chief) in July upon the retirement of Ron Wise who served the department for 31 years. Keith Bierhalter was promoted to deputy chief and Paul Quinn to captain. Ron Ridley was honored as Firefighter of the Year. The department added eight paid-on-call firefighters.

Limitations caused by COVID didn't hinder SHAES from sponsoring its annual Fire Safety Week albeit virtually and through drive-bys at local schools and senior care facilities. The department participated in a water safety awareness initiative by printing more than 10,000 placemats for restaurants in cooperation with the Bronson Safe Kids Coalition.

Grants from community organizations and businesses made it possible for the department to acquire water rescue kits for the paid-on-call staff and purchase two EMS bikes to be used at local events and in congested areas. Firefighter gear washers and dryers were installed at each SHAES station.

New SHAES Rescue - Made in South Haven

A new heavy duty Rescue truck is being manufactured for SHAES by Spencer Manufacturing of South Haven. Deputy Chief Keith Bierhalter is pictured with the Rescue during its very early stages of construction. The new Rescue will replace the 1998 model Rescue One. Delivery is scheduled for the coming weeks. See more pictures –

Thank You Steve Jones for Your Service

After 34 years of service with SHAES, Steve (Torpedo) Jone's last shifts will be this week. Steve started his career with Covert F.D. in 1981, was hired by South Haven Fire Department in August, 1986 and continued his career with South Haven Area Emergency Services Authority following it's inception in 1996.

Steve has seen many changes, many co-workers, and many advancements. In the mid 80's SH Fire Department averaged 900 calls per year, 2020 SHAES responded to 2358 calls for service. In 1986 SH Fire Department had 2 transporting Limited Advanced ambulances, today we have 4 transporting ALS squads.

Steve has proudly served the South Haven Area community for all this time, NEVER losing his compassion for patients that we encounter. After 34 years he still treats every patient with as much compassion and respect as his first day on the job. Steve was presented the department's Leadership Award in 2017.

Chief Hinz was privileged to work on shift with Steve for 15 years as proud “A-shifters”. “More times than I could ever count he's made us laugh, offered words of advice, and kept me grounded….probably more than he realizes.” said Chief Hinz.

While we are sad to see Steve go, we are happy for this next step in his life. All the members of SHAES wish Steve a happy retirement and are grateful for his service and dedication to this community and organization.

SHAES Responder Promoted to Fulltime

SHAES is proud to announce the promotion of Paid on Call FF/EMT-B Rex Haner to career Assistant Inspector! Rex started his career with SHAES as a P.O.C. FF in 2009, achieving his EMT-B certification in 2011. Along with being an active member of SHAES and serving the community he lives in, Rex also serves our country as an active member in The Army National Guard.

His new job duties with SHAES will consist of assisting the Deputy Chief with inspections, pre-plans, short term rentals and assisting with department training.

Congratulations Rex, we are glad to have you aboard, albeit in a different classification. Our community will be well served with your 12 years of Fire/EMS experience and dedication to SHAES.

SHAES Tribute to Country and Community

See more photos –

Service to Country and Community has been a long time commitment for responders at South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES). A large mural illustrating that commitment appears on a wall of the apparatus room of the department's Station 3. It also now appears on two of the department's vehicles. Its placement was made possible through memorial gifts presented to the department in tribute to deceased members David Henry (1954-2019), Stanley Wakild (1943-2020) and Edward Bierhalter (1928-2019) and Ed's wife, Dorothy (1929-2017). The original mural was created by retired deputy chief Tony Marsala and current deputy chief Keith Bierhalter. It was adapted for placement on the trucks by Anchor Signs of Benton Harbor. Members of the Bierhalter, Henry and Wakild families recently visited Station 3 to see the tributes. The South Haven fire department was founded in 1888 and served the community as SHAES for the past 25 years.

Happy Birthday SHAES!

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) marks a quarter-of-a-century serving the community on January 1st. To mark the occasion, a handcrafted large-scale replica of the SHAES logo was recently presented to the department for placement in the Blue Star Station.

Retired Chief Randy Van Wynen (pictured left) crafted the wooden logo featuring South Haven's distinctive lighthouse with a lighted lamp room. He is pictured with Chief Brandon Hinz.

Van Wynen was chief during the transition from separate South Haven and Casco fire departments into the area authority that now provides the City of South Haven and townships of Casco, Geneva and South Haven with fire and emergency medical services from three stations. The SHAES was created on January 1, 1996. SHAES is on target to set a record for responses in a calendar year. The record is 2,276 in 2016.

Read Moody of the Market story –

Death of SHAES Firefighter Tom Leva

We sadly report the death of longtime SHAES firefighter Tom Leva after a courageous battle against cancer on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Tom served our community as a part-paid firefighter for 25 years, joining the South Haven Fire Department in 1994 and beginning in 1996 South Haven Area Emergency Services. He retired in December, 2019. In 2014 he was the recipient of the department's leadership award.

Statement from Chief Brandon Hinz: ” Tom was a good person, through and through. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone and he was likely the most intelligent person any of us will ever meet. He loved SHAES and was our biggest supporter, bar none. Tom will be missed greatly but not forgotten. We often celebrate the lives, service and memories of our passed and retired members at the coffee table…he was a large part of that while he was with us, he will certainly be a large part of that after his passing”

Governor Whitmer Thanks SHAES Responders

SHAES staff hosted a special visitor on Friday, Oct. 30, when Governor Gretchen Whitmer stopped at Station 3 with pizza for lunch and to say “thank you” for the work of our responders during the current COVID pandemic. Chief Hinz presented her with two SHAES t-shirts, including one that the department created for Cancer Awareness Month.

Ron Ridley is SHAES Firefighter of the Year

A veteran firefighter with over four decades of service has been named the South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) Firefighter of the Year. Captain Ron Ridley has been selected by his peers for the honor a second time. He was also chosen Firefighter of the Year in 2003.

Ridley started with the former Casco township fire department in 1979. He was chief of that department when Casco became part of SHAES in 1995. He was promoted to captain in 2010.

“Ron's 40-plus year career in the fire service serves as a model for anyone looking to pursue this lifestyle,” said Chief Brandon Hinz when presenting the award at a recent meeting of the SHEAS Authority Board. “I was fortunate to work with Ron on a shift and we are all fortunate to have Ron serving SHAES as such a solid employee, mentor and friend.”

See other recent department recognitions –

Other Years

public/2021_review.txt · Last modified: 2021/03/27 10:36 by tomrenner