Courier-Leader & Flashes

Trailblazing firefighter retires from SHAES

Photo Courtesy of SHAES
Dawn Hinz at a 2021 Lake Michigan rescue
Photo Courtesy of SHAES
Dawn Hinz
Photo Courtesy of SHAES
Dawn Hinz leading training on water rescue.
Photo Courtesy of SHAES
Dawn Hinz instructing beach interns regarding beach flag system
Photo Courtesy of SHAES
Dawn Hinz and fellow firefighter Cody Sedlak responding to emergency on Lake Michigan

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.

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