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2023 Year in Review

SHAES Thanks Mayor Scott Smith for Service

South Haven Area Emergency Services is privileged to honor South Haven Mayor Scott Smith for his service as a member of the SHAES Authority Board. SHAES Executive Director Brandon Hinz during the regular monthly Board meeting on December 13 presented Scott with a “retirement” badge in recognition of his time as a Board member. Scott will end his term as South Haven's Mayor and as a SHAES Board member on December 31. Scott served six years as Mayor and before that was a City Council member for 10 years. “We are so grateful for Scott's advocacy of SHAES these many years,” said Hinz.

SHAES Seeks New Members. Here's How.

Want to serve your community and become a member of South Haven Area Emergency Services? Here’s a road map on how to get started!

SHAES provides fire protection and emergency medical transport services to three townships and South Haven City. A total of nearly 100 sq. miles! We have a staff of seventeen career members and twenty-five paid-on-call members. We operate out of three stations and have an outstanding line of ambulances and fire apparatus. Members often begin their careers as paid-on-call. After achieving firefighter certification, paid-on-call members respond directly to the incident scenes after being alerted by dispatch via our paging system…. in other words you get to do all the fun stuff, fight fires, extrication, etc. Paid-on-call members that wish to further their education to pursue a career position will be sponsored by SHAES. If the member remains in good standings with the department all education associated with obtaining a career position with SHAES will be reimbursed! SHAES offers ALS transport ambulance service to our coverage areas, all career members are Firefighter/Paramedics. Once career positions become available, any members of SHAES that have been diligent in their paid-on-call careers to that point, made effort and are in good standings with the department will stand a good chance at a career position.

To become a member of SHAES: 1. Members are required to live in our coverage area (Casco Township, Geneva Township, South Haven City, South Haven Township). 2. Firefighter 1 & 2 certifications must be obtained at a minimum to be an active member of SHAES.

If You Are Under 18 Years of Age Van Buren ISD offers an exceptional Firefighter 1 & 2 program. If you’re still in high school we highly suggest this route. Why not take the program during school hours? The VB ISD program is top notch and highly recommended. The class instructor is a FF on a neighboring department of SHAES. Four career SHAES members are graduates of the ISD program as well as multiple paid on call members!

Van Buren ISD also offers an EMT-Basic program, also regarded as one of the best EMT programs in the area. This certification is required prior to enrolling in an EMT-Paramedic program, which is required to be a career member of SHAES but not required to be a paid-on-call member.

SHAES will sponsor candidates for both programs under our newly formed Cadet Program. If accepted, Cadets will be full fledged members of SHAES, able to respond to incidents and assist at the station.

If You Are Over 18 Years of Age Van Buren County offers a Firefighter 1 & 2 academy every Fall from September- May. Two nights per week, 6-10 PM, with an eight-hour Saturday class per month. SHAES would sponsor accepted members for the program. Once certification is achieved candidates become SHAES paid-on-call members able respond to and assist at fire calls. If further education is desired, members will be sponsored by SHAES and reimbursed for training pertaining to a career position with the department.

Sound good?! Check us out, ask questions! Not only would you be serving your community, you also become a member of our family. SHAES is a proud, well-trained, professional department. Work yourself into a great job, with great people!

Questions: Contact Chief Brandon Hinz – email

SHAES Honor Guard Participates in Veterans Day Ceremonies

The SHAES Honor Guard joined elementary-age children at the North Shore and Lincoln schools in raising the flag on Veterans Day.

Read South Haven Tribune article –

Grant to SHAES Supports Firefighter Safety

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) has been awarded a $40,000 State of Michigan Fire Equipment Grant that will be used for the purchase of firefighter turnout gear.

“This grant funding is certainly welcomed and greatly appreciated as equipment costs continue to rise,” said SHAES Executive Director Brandon Hinz.

Using local funds, a recent SHAES purchase of turnout gear for eight firefighters cost $26,000. SHAES employs a total of 17 career members and 30 paid-on-call members. Turnout gear has a 10-year lifespan. SHAES, at a minimum, has sought to purchase five complete sets of bunker gear annually to ensure members are protected and safe. This grant will help the department accelerate its purchases.

“Especially with studies linking increased cancer rates among firefighters, SHAES has been very proactive in recent years to ensure members are properly protected. These grants are moving us closer to our goal of providing all our members with two pairs of turnout gear. One as a back-up while the other is laundered,” said Hinz.

In recent years the department has replaced its entire inventory of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and installed laundering equipment at its stations.

SHAES Firefighter Memorial in Downtown is Restored

Restoration of the Firefighters Memorial in downtown South Haven has been completed. We are grateful for the craftsman from Lakefront Roofing and Exteriors. Proceeds from our pancake breakfasts are allowing this important work to occur.

This memorial to first responders was placed at the entrance to downtown South Haven in 2000. Contributions from local businesses and fund-raisers by members of SHAES made construction of the monument possible. It stands eight-feet-tall with an 800-pound fire service emblem handcrafted from black granite at the top. The monument was designed by Fire Chief Randy Van Wynen and handcrafted by mason Willy Wildt. St. Joe Monument Works created the etchings on the granite. The etched panels include the Fireman's Prayer and recognitions of the service provided by those in the Fire Service: Challenge, Respect, Honor.

Rotary Supports Beach Safety Initiatives

Pictured, left to right: Melinda Gruber, President South Haven Rotary; Griffin Graham, South Haven City Deputy City Manager; Kate Hosier, South Haven City Manager; Matt Dey, South Haven City Beach Safety & Facilities Superintendent; Karina Perales and Kathy Kuenzle, South Haven City Beach Enforcement Attendants; Scott Smith, Mayor, City of South Haven; and Bill Roberts, South Haven Rotary Club.

The South Haven Rotary Club and City of South Haven are working together to improve beach safety. The Rotarians met with City of South Haven leaders to present checks totaling $13,500 to support our local community’s beach safety programs. The funds will provide additional year round life ring stations located on the piers and three automated external defibrillator AED devices for the city beaches.

Both initiatives are part of the City’s larger beach safety program and are intended to help facilitate rapid response and life-saving assistance to emergencies. The expanded beach safety program was previously managed through SHAES, but is now a City of South Haven responsibility.

Matt Dey, South Haven’s Beach Safety and Facilities Superintendent, thanked the Rotary Club and its members noting that “…the community has asked for year round life rings to be put out on both piers and with the support of our community and this generous grant from the South Haven Rotary Club, I am proud to announce that the six life ring cabinets have been ordered and are on their way to be delivered! The three AEDs funded through this grant will allow us to provide life-saving actions within minutes of a cardia event as we are always at the beaches. Providing that support within five minutes will dramatically increase the survival rate of person experiencing cardiac arrest.”

Rotary President Melinda Gruber presented the checks noting that “Water and beach safety is an important part of Rotary’s mission. We are pleased to be able to do what we can to help ensure the safety of all who visit our beautiful lakefront.”

While most of the funds were raised locally, Rotarian Bill Roberts was instrumental in obtaining matching grants from the Rotary District 6360 that increased the total contribution by over thirty percent. District Distributed Funds (DDF) were instrumental in funding the three AED’s and a Karl Sandelin Grant enabled the acquisition of the life-preserver stations for both piers. The additional Rotary district “multipliers” made it possible for the Rotary Club of South haven to distribute both awards to the City this summer.

Community Leadership is Recognized

A feeling of a positive community environment in South Haven was expressed Friday night at the opening of the decades-long Bobbie Walker Basketball Tournament. Leadership awards were presented by tournament founder Bobbie Walker to organizations and city officials. Pictured from left to right are South Haven Area Emergency Services Chief Brandon Hinz, Mayor Scott Smith, Bobbie Walker and South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson. The tournament is held in conjunction with the National Blueberry Festival.

SHAES Participates in National Night Out

SHAES staff joined law enforcement partners and community organizations in celebrating National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 1.


National Night Out is an annual community building campaign that promotes community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. We at SHAES are grateful for the many like-minded organizations who are dedicated to serving our community.

SHAES Welcomes New Career Member Will Cooper

SHAES is pleased to welcome new Firefighter/Paramedic William (Will) Cooper to the career ranks. He joined the department on July 18. Will is from the Kalamazoo area having served most recently as a paramedic with Life-EMS Ambulance. He has also served on the Comstock Township Fire Department. He is a graduate of Gull Lake High School and received his Associate Degree in Fire Science from Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

South Haven Elks Support SHAES Dive Team

South Haven Elks Lodge #1509 recently presented $1,500 to South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) to allow its Dive Team to purchase six new SCUBA air tanks. Keeping up with training and ensuring the team has proper equipment allows the Dive Team to quickly respond to search and rescue missions at local lakes and Lake Michigan. SHAES serves the city of South Haven and townships of Casco, Geneva and South Haven. Its territory includes approximately 10 miles of coast line from the Van Buren State Park to Glenn. The team is also available for mutual aid to other jurisdictions. The team trained year round in Lake Michigan and inland lakes, including Lake Arvesta. The team is in the process of converting a previously used ambulance into a mobile response unit. SHAES previously used a trailer for that purpose. This better equipped unit will allow for a quicker response to emergencies.

Pictured left to right are: Firefighter/diver Zachary Haner, Elks member Spencer Campbell, FF/diver Brad Filbrandt, FF/diver Dawn Nyhof, Elks Exalted Ruler Jim Mishler, FF/Dive Master Owen Ridley, FF/diver Jake Clemons and FF/diver Cody Sedlack.

ISD Career Camp Students Visit SHAES

Students enrolled in the Van Buren Intermediate School District Career Week summer program visited South Haven Area Emergency Services recently. The middle school age students were from schools throughout Van Buren County. SHAES staff explained career opportunities in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Firefighting. We're excited to see young people exploring career opportunities in our profession.

Community Foundation Grant Supports SHAES Initiative

SHAES thanks the South Haven Area Community Foundation for its support with a grant that will allow the department to fully fund its purchase of new confined space rescue equipment. SHAES firefighters Zach Kenreich and Corey Capel are pictured with Community Foundation Board member Janice Varney during a grant presentation ceremony. The Foundation grant, along with donations from area businesses, is allowing the department to purchase of seven harnesses sets and 200-foot-long ropes to expand the department's rescue capabilities.

Generous Community Helps SHAES Support Family of Fallen Firefighter

Thank you community and visitors to South Haven for supporting the SHAES Pancake Breakfast on Memorial Weekend Sunday. We served approximately 600 breakfasts! We were honored to be able to sponsor this as a fund raiser for the family of Paw Paw volunteer firefighter Lt. Ethan Quillen who died in the line-of-duty this past February. Breakfast proceeds along with donations totaled $3,800 for the family.We are grateful for the support of firefighters from many departments.

SHAES Recognizes Members with Awards


Pictured left to right Chief Brandon Hinz and Zach Kenreich

Zach Kenreich as a high school student decided he wanted a career that would serve his community. While attending South Haven High School he enrolled in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course at the Van Buren Tech Center. He was certified by the time he graduated from high school.

He immediately joined South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) as a paid-on-call firefighter. Three years later (2017) he became a career member in the department.

Today the 26-year-old Firefighter/Paramedic is the department’s 2023 Firefighter of the Year. He was recognized at the department’s annual banquet on May 6.

“The idea of graduating from high school with a (EMT) license was very appealing,” admits Kenreich. “More important to me was the idea of serving my community.”

The Firefighter of the Year is determined by a vote of the membership.

“Although our members vote for this nomination, it is not a popularity contest,” notes SHAES Executive Director Brandon Hinz. “Zach is being recognized for his dedication, compassion and desire for learning. He understands that teamwork is a huge part of this organization.”

Kenreich is responsible for much of the management of the department’s technology, including the budget and capital equipment oversight. He has also led an effort to secure equipment for confined space rescues, securing funding from local sources.

The recipient of this year’s Leadership Award is Phillip Quinn (pictured left) , a paid-on-call member since 2010.

“Phillip has been a steady responder who is always there. Even with increased commitments at his regular employment and family, he’s remained an active member that is much appreciated given everyone’s busy schedules outside the fire department. He’s never required a pat on the back, glory or fame, he comes when he’s called, does his job, and goes home with a good attitude.”

Several members were recognized for professional achievements: Corey Capel, Fire Instructor I; Owen Ridley, Shawn Smith and Timothy Forker, Fire Instructor 2; Paul Quinn, Fire Inspector; Jordan Walthall, EMT Basic; Maggie Murrillo, EMR; Brian Horan, Jr., Fire Officer 2; and Jazmin Cortez and Zach Hanners, Rescue Diver. Joining the department as paid-on-call candidates over the past year are Dawn Nyhof, Shelby Forker, Lilly Nyhof and Dalton Wolfe. New career members (Firefighter/Paramedic) are Johanna Quinn and Corey Capel. Shawn Smith was promoted to the newly created position as Training Officer.

The department honored members for years of service – Keith Bierhalter (pictured left), 40 years; Brian Montgomery and Dawn Hinz, 15 years; Zach Church, 10 years. South Haven Mayor Scott Smith was recognized for his five years as a member of the SHAES governing board.

“Throughout the history of SHAES, the former Casco and South Haven fire departments, we have prided ourselves on compassionate care for our EMS patients, quick response and aggressive fire suppression. Our members have always gone the additional step, to do that extra. Our community and residents expect the best and our goal year in and year out is to do just that,” said Hinz.

Alarms Up, Losses Down for SHAES in 2022

See 2022 Annual Report –

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) responded to a record number of calls during 2022 while experiencing a reduction in fire losses, according to the department’s Annual Report.

Marking its 26th year, the SHAES Authority serves the city of South Haven and the townships of Casco, Geneva and South Haven from three stations. The department is comprised of 17 fulltime staff and 29 paid-on-call firefighters protecting 97 square miles of land and several miles of Lake Michigan shoreline from three stations.

For the fifth consecutive year, the number of calls has increased from the previous year to a record 2,659. The previous record, set in 2021, was 2,592.

“Our call volume showed increases in the medical area,” said executive director Brandon Hinz. “Our staff remained committed to providing quality service to our residents and visitors.”

There were 1,902 calls on the medical side compared to 1,804 in 2021. Fire alarms decreased from 788 to 757. SHAES has responded to more than 2,000 calls in each of the past ten years.

There were 1,119 calls in the city of South Haven followed by South Haven township 685, Geneva township 397 and Casco township 342. SHAES provided mutual aid to other fire departments and EMS agencies on 143 occasions.

SHAES continued an active inspection program which made nearly 1,112 contacts, including 642 short-term rental contacts during the year.

Fire losses totaled $846,016 compared to $1,565,800 in 2021. Losses by governmental unit were Geneva township, $390,846; city of South Haven, $309,850; South Haven township, $77,820; Casco township, $52,500.

There were no civilian fire-related deaths in 2022. There were five incidents in which a responder was injured either at an emergency scene or other work-related occurence.

Amanda Quinn was honored as Firefighter of the Year and the department's Leadership Award was presented to Drexal Haner. The department added four paid-on-call firefighters.

The department sponsored Fire Safety Week and expanded its water safety awareness initiatives in cooperation with the City of South Haven and Bronson Safe Kids Coalition. SHAES was recognized as a Patriotic Employer by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The community benefited from an improvement in the rating given the area by the Insurance Service Office (ISO). This improved rating should be reflected in property fire insurance rates.

“With the support from the communities we serve, the SHAES Authority Board has been able to increase staffing levels, expand our inspection program and broaden department training in recent years,” said Hinz.

The department put into service a new ambulance and placed an order for a new pumper/tanker for delivery in 2024. There was an increased emphasis on training with the designation of a fulltime training officer.

Grant Supports SHAES Rescue Capabilities

A grant from a major South Haven area industry is allowing South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) to upgrade the equipment that would be needed for confined space rescues.

The New Covert Generating Facility grant totaling $5,000 has allowed for the purchase of seven sets of harnesses and seven 200-foot-long ropes for the department, according to SHAES Firefighter/Paramedic Zachary Kenreich (pictured) who spearheaded the effort to replace existing out-dated equipment and expand the department's capabilities.

The New Covert Generating Facility in Covert Township is a natural gas fired, combined-cycle plant. SHAES would be one of the mutual aid responders should an emergency requiring confined space rescues occur.

“These harnesses can be donned much more quickly than the ones we had previously,” said Kenreich. The ropes will also be used in water rescues, according to Kenreich.

SHAES expresses its apprciation to Ken Tomaski, Plant Manager at New Covert for facilitating this grant.

Firefighter/Paramedic Dawn Hinz Retires

Fox17 Coverage –

WWMT Coverage –

Moody on the Market coverage –

Herald Palladium Story –

A firefighter who has been a trailblazer for females serving in the emergency services is retiring from South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES).

Dawn Hinz served her last shift this week, retiring from her career position. She has served 21 years, the first seven with the Covert Fire Department and the past 14 years with SHAES.

Hinz was hired as South Haven's first career female firefighter. The number of female SHAES firefighters grew to three in the fulltime ranks and another six in the paid-on-call staff.

“There is no doubt the positive impact Dawn has left with our organization,” said Executive Director Brandon Hinz who happens to be her husband. “Firefighting/EMS is a physical job. You have to think on your feet. You have to be knowledgeable in fire, EMS, confined space rescue, water rescue, vehicle operations. In the not too distant past, women weren't considered to be strong and tough enough for a career position in this type of job. Dawn came to SHAES and showed them all wrong. The women we've hired since have continued that attitude/mentality and capability.”

Dawn grew up believing that girls can do anything boys can do. Her favorite memory from elementary school gym class is reaching the ceiling on the climbing rope. A feat only completed by a handful of boys. She was always active; climbing trees, riding her bike, or swimming; both in the local pool and Lake Michigan.

After graduating Valedictorian she continued her natural inclination to fitness; excelling in the challenging atmosphere of career firefighting and EMS. She competed multiple times in the Firefighter Combat Challenge, frequently being the only female to finish the Challenge. She has used her passion for fitness and health to guide multiple firefighters, both male, and female, to complete various Firefighter Physical Agility tests.

While she hadn’t run a formal 5k she joined a friend at her first triathlon and was hooked! Triathlon joined her favorite fitness past times with a supportive yet competitive atmosphere. Dawn has since competed in numerous triathlons from sprint to half distance. As a USAT certified triathlon coach she’s delighted to guide athletes to their own fitness goals and finish lines. The time she spent in the pool and big lake as a kid gave her confidence with swimming, which she loves to impart to children and adults. Studying swimming techniques and coaching her local kid’s swim club gave her the platform to implement efficient swim technique to her athletes.

Continuing her passion for women keeping up with men, she studied with Dr. Stacy Sims, author of “Women are Not Small Men”. The book explores a women’s physiology to unlock an extra 5-10% of their physical ability thru training.

Dawn will continue her affiliation with Athletic Mentors of Kalamazoo, a Corporate Wellness and Coached Gym that inspires healthy living no matter an individual's current fitness ability. Additionally, Athletic Mentors coaches and manages cycling and multi-sport teams with a youth development focus.

In recent years Dawn Hinz's SHAES responsibilities have included supervising the summer beach safety interns for the City of South Haven.

Brandon and Dawn live in Geneva Township with sons, Jake and Cal. They enjoy farming as a way to relax, raising crops and pigs. Dawn will continue on the department as a paid-on-call member.

“We thank Dawn for her service to SHAES and the community, the lessons she has passed along, the path she has paved.,” said Brandon Hinz.

SHAES Puts New Ambulance in Service

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) has put into service a new Advanced Life Support ambulance. The department's approach to acquiring the ambulance was unique and was accomplished by saving taxpayers thousands of dollars, according to SHAES Executive Director Brandon Hinz. The manufacturer, Emergency Vehicles Plus of Holland, Mich., refurbished the box on the previous 2008 model ambulance and remounted it on a 2022 Ford Chassis. The four-wheel drive unit is state-of-the-art for providing paramedic level service to the community. Supply chain issues delayed delivery of the ambulance for several months, but the level of service by SHAES was maintained during this time thanks to a loaner provided by Emergency Vehicles Plus.


public/2023_review.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/22 15:47 by tomrenner