Dowagiac names firefighter of the year

Published 9:03 am Friday, May 2, 2014

Leader photos/TED YOAKUM 2013 Fireman of the Year Award winner Chad Bundy thanks his fellow firefighters for their support.

Leader photos/TED YOAKUM
2013 Fireman of the Year Award winner Chad Bundy thanks his fellow firefighters for their support.

If you ask Director of Public Safety Steven Grinnewald how he feels about the brave souls manning the city’s frontline against fire, all he would have to do in response is point to the new sign that will be placed above the door at the fire station.

The sign boasts the words, “Through these doors pass the world’s finest fire fighters.”

Grinnewald and Dowagiac Fire Chief Guy Evans unveiled the placard during the 2013 Fireman of the Year award ceremony, which took place Wednesday night at the Timberline Inn. Taking home the award this year was

Chad Bundy, who was chosen through a vote by the department’s full-time and part-time staff.

Bundy was presented the award by Nick Barnes with the Wolverine Mutual Insurance Company, which has organized the annual celebration of public service for the past 44 years.

“[Bundy] enjoys the thrill and challenge of going into burning buildings and is someone who would drop everything to help someone in need,” Barnes said during the presentation.

Bundy, the grandson of a former firefighter, has been with the Dowagiac Fire Department for four years. The department recently recognized him for his role as an accountability officer during a house fire in the city.

“I appreciate everything, all the hard work that everybody does everyday,” Bundy said upon being handed the trophy signifying the achievement. “I appreciate this opportunity. I’ll pay you guys back.”

Bundy is a native of Niles, and served in the U.S Army, serving 16 months in the Iraq. He has also served with the Pokagon Township Fire Department for the past five years, he said.

The fact that he was selected by his fellow firefighters for the honor came as a pleasant surprise, Bundy said.

“I was not expecting this, whatsoever,” he said. “It’s nice that my peers recognize the hard work myself and others put in every year. I wasn’t able to earn this award just on my own, though; it was a team effort.”

Like many of his teammates at the station, his desire to serve the public isn’t driven by the promise of awards or fame, but because of a higher calling, he said.

“I enjoy helping the community and others,” he said. “I would do it for free, but I’m glad I don’t have to.”

Also recognized during this year’s ceremony was Dowagiac City Council Member Jim Dodd, who worked for the fire department for 40 years before hanging up his helmet in 2012. Grinnewald and Evans presented the two-time Fireman of the Year Winner with a plaque in honor of his decades of service to the public.

“I probably can’t count the number of things that he missed, and the times that he was up until 2 a.m. in the morning to do his job,” Grinnewald said. “He gave so much to this community.”

This is the first firefighter awards ceremony that Grinnewald has participated in since becoming the head of the city’s fire and police services last year. The public safety director praised the dedication and sacrifice of his subordinates, especially in light of their performance during the man search following the reported abduction last month on Riverside Drive.

“You guys were up there, trudging through those woods, in a potentially dangerous situation,” Grinnewald said. “We didn’t know if a guy was running out there with a gun or not. Didn’t matter. You guys were all there, looking through those woods and doing what you were supposed to do.”