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2020 Year in Review

July 4, 2020 - Virtual Parade

See photo gallery featuring past Fourth of July parades –

South Haven showed its sweet tooth, both for baked goods and a good cause, by supporting a neighborhood kids bake sale this past Saturday. On Monday the kids delivered $1,450 to SHAES in support of its fire prevention programs. Pictured from left to right are Kaya Durden, Kaelan Johnson, Keatan Durden and Kamdan Johnson with firefighter Steve Gavadas.

Acquisition of Bikes a New Tool for SHAES Responders


The growing popularity of South Haven as a destination community that draws large crowds for special events gives rise to the challenge for responders who need to render care when an emergency occurs. That concern has led to the acquisition of bikes to be used by SHAES personnel, especially during the busy summer weekends when high traffic areas are difficult to navigate.

The idea for acquiring the bikes came about before the current COVID pandemic which this summer has reduced the number of traditional events and the acquisition of the bikes was slowed because of supply-chain issues.

“We'll use them these remaining summer weeks,” said SHAES Chief Brandon Hinz. “People will see our staff along the beaches or in the downtown area and we'll be ready for 2021 when things return to normal.”

The purchase of the bikes and first aid equipment to be used by the responders was made possible by a grant from the Albemarle Corporation Foundation through its employee philanthropic initiative program. The grant also funded the purchase of water rescue equipment for the department's paid-on-call staff.

The bikes were acquired through Rock 'N' Road Cycle of South Haven.

“We are grateful to owner Scott Zoet and his staff for helping identify the right bike and equipment for this purpose,” said Hinz.

The bikes are equipped with a jump kit that contains first aid equipment to be used until SHAES ambulance personnel arrive at the scene of the emergency.

Service Honors Longtime Firefighter Stan Wakild



The funeral service for longtime South Haven firefighter and Veteran Stanley (Stan) Wakild was held on July 29 with full honors. He died July 13. Internment was at Lakeview Cemetery. Stan was part of our department over a span of six decades. He joined in 1965, was promoted to Lieutenant in 1978 and served as Chief beginning in 1989 until his retirement in 1993. He continued to serve as a paid-on-call firefighter and in recent years was a nighttime dispatcher. He was a member of the SHAES Honor Guard. He honorably served his country in the United States Air Force, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and served as Commander of American Legion Post 49.

South Haven Focused Beach Safety Tips Messaging Created

Visitors to lakeshore communities like South Haven are often unaware of the dangers posed by the inviting water of Lake Michigan.

“Drownings in the Great Lakes, including in the South Haven area, are a grave concern,” said Chief Brandon Hinz of South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES). “As we examined ways to prevent future tragedies it became apparent that there is a lack of awareness by the public, especially guests in the community, to the inherent dangers posed by the lake.”

In an effort to educate the public of these dangers, SHAES, in cooperation with Safe Kids Greater South Haven-led by Bronson South Haven Hospital and The Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium, has designed a custom-made Beach Safety place mat for distribution to local businesses, particularly restaurants. Owners of short-term rentals are being encouraged to post it in their rental.

Illustrator Jessica Byers of South Haven created a colorful array of graphics highlighting topics such as beach flag warnings, tips for escaping rip currents, advice about walking on the pier, when to use life jackets and even digging in the sand. On the back of the placemat are water-safety related kids activities. The project was initiated by former SHAES Chief Ron Wise.

“Making sure our children are safe is the top priority of the Safe Kids Coalition in Greater South Haven,” said Dr. Matthew Dommer, chief operating officer and vice president for medical affairs at Bronson Lakeview and South Haven Hospitals. “Because of our commitment to help families and communities prevent childhood injuries this is the perfect public education project for South Haven.”

Copies are available at the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 546 Phoenix St., and South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, 606 Phillips St.

SHAES Responders Broaden Rescue Capabilities

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) is broadening its ability to respond to water rescue incidents by providing its paid-on-call members with water rescue equipment that stays with the responders all-of-the time.

Thanks to a grant from the Albemarle Corporation of South Haven, nineteen SHAES responders now have a fitted PFD - personalized flotation device (life jacket), helmet and throw-bag containing 50 feet of rope.

SHAES equipment (ambulances, rescue truck, engines) also contain this equipment, but frequently the paid-on-call members who respond from their home or workplace are the first to arrive on an emergency scene.

“Minutes, if not seconds, count in this type of emergency situation,” said Chief Brandon Hinz. “We are grateful for the continuing support of Albemarle as we strive to protect our community to the best of our ability.”

Hinz also thanked former chief Ron Wise who pursued funding for the acquisition.

In recent weeks SHAES staff has been conducting its annual water rescue drills on Lake Michigan and Lake Arvesta. A recent drill included members of the South Haven Police Department whose officers also have PFDs in their patrol cars.

New SHAES Firefighters Announced

South Haven Area Emergency Services is pleased to introduce eight new citizen (part-paid) firefighters. A SHAES Fire Academy Graduation ceremony was held on June 15, culminating a challenging eight-month-long process toward becoming state-certified firefighters. Even the COVID pandemic wasn't about to discourage this determined group. In addition to the SHAES group, there were firefighter candidates from Bangor, Lawrence and Paw Paw in the class. Pictured is the SHAES group. From left to right with retired chief Ron Wise and chief Brandon Hinz are Phillip Poole, Justin Denbow, Kevin Wildey, Nicholas Christie, Amanda Quinn, Aaron Sawyer, Zachary Hanner and Jacob Clemons.

SHAES Announces New Executive Director/Chief

South Haven Area Emergency Services is pleased to announce that Fire Fighter/Paramedic Brandon Hinz has been named the Executive Director/Chief for South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES).

Hinz was selected by the SHAES Authority Board following a national search. A committee of citizens participated in the selection process.

Hinz will succeed current Executive Director Ronald Wise who will be retiring on Sept 30. He will begin his duties June 1 and will work alongside Wise.

“Brandon has a solid reputation for being a hardworking, self-motivated and trustworthy member of SHAES,” said Ross Stein, South Haven Township Supervisor who chairs the SHAES Board. “After multiple rounds of interviews he was clearly the best choice to lead the organization for years to come.”

“SHAES has been an integral part of my life,” said Hinz. “I am very proud to have been a part of this organization for the past 21 years. I will continue to lead SHAES toward all our collective goals with hard work and integrity. Together, we will further our mission of providing the residents of the greater South Haven area with the best fire, rescue and EMS services.

Hinz joined the SHAES staff in 1999. A lifelong resident of the South Haven community, he started as a paid-on-call responder and since 2005 has been a fulltime firefighter/paramedic. He currently oversees the department’s maintenance service, assists in the training program and has served as an acting Captain. In 2012 he was presented the department’s Leadership Award. He is completing Blue Card Command training which is a nationally recognized training and certification program for fire command officers.

Brandon lives in Geneva Township with his wife Dawn and sons Jake and Cal. He enjoys farming as a way to relax raising crops and pigs.

Residential Smoke Detectors a Must

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 –

SHAES 2019 Annual Report Released

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 –

SHAES Firefighters Have New Level of Protection

Read Herald Palladium story –

Read MLive story –

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.

Paul Quinn Promoted to SHAES Fire Captain

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.

Historic Scott Club Receives Fire Safeguard

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.

Other Years

public/2020_review.txt · Last modified: 2020/12/29 20:41 by quinntm