Lt. Brian Townsend Dowagiac Fireman of 2012Published 10:11pm Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Dowagiac’s 2012 Fireman of the Year, announced Wednesday night at Timberline at Wolverine Mutual Insurance Co.’s 43rd annual dinner for the department, is Lt. Brian Townsend.
Townsend, 34, of Cassopolis, joined the department in 2005 after fighting fires for Edwardsburg beginning in 2009. He graduated from Union High School in 1997.
By day, Townsend is a Cass County Road Commission superintendent.
He and his wife, Samantha, who works for Pokagon Head Start, have two sons, Justin, 10, and Jordon, 8. Both boys attend Kincheloe Elementary School.
Townsend earned such Michigan Firefighter Training Council certifications as Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Fire Officer I, II and III, vehicle extrication, hazardous materials operations, incident safety officer and emergency vehicle operations.
As lieutenant, six firefighters are assigned to his command.
Away from the department, Townsend farms on the family sesquicentennial farm on Beeson Street and is active at the Cass County Fair, particularly with the Tractor Pullers Association putting on demolition derbies and truck and tractor pulls.
“He can also be found cheering on his children at their soccer and baseball games and participating in weekend camping trips with family and friends,” said Wolverine marketing representative Nick Barnes, master of ceremonies for four years.
“I don’t know what to say,” Townsend said. “I live a very busy life, but I sure enjoy everybody here. I appreciate you guys having my back and I’ve got your back. It’s nice to have family I can count on. Thanks, guys.”
Retiring Public Safety Director Tom Atkinson gave a PowerPoint presentation of the history of fire service equipment, facilities and personnel since 1971, with some trivia questions about past winners since the first, Ron McAtee.
Archives were updated by Rikki Baker, who helped the department organize its history.
Deputy Fire Chief Guy Evans presented a citation for 450 hours of service to Honorary Firefighter Jay Elliott.
Atkinson, who received a trophy similar to Fireman of the Year, is retiring in July.
He became police chief in August 1997 after retiring from the Sheriff’s Office, then oversaw consolidation of the police and fire departments into the Department of Public Safety in 2008 and dedication of the new fire station in the old highway garage in 2009. He will join Southwestern Michigan College.
Atkinson introduced his deputy police chief, Steve Grinnewald, as his DPS successor.
Grinnewald, a firefighter for three years in Parchment, joined Dowagiac Police Department 17 years ago as a patrolman. He grew up in Otsego and earned his associate degree in law enforcement from Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
He has been a police officer since he started in Parchment in 1990.
Grinnewald also obtained a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Bethel College.
He and Melissa, his wife of 19 years, have two children, Matt and Lauren.
Guests included Wayne Mattix (38 years, 17 years as chief); Dale Hutchings (32 years, his last three as deputy chief); City Councilman Jim Dodd, a 40-year fire department veteran; and Sarah Northrup, Wolverine casualty underwriter.