Dan Yost appointed Grant Township fire chief.

February 11, 2021

Grant Township Fire Chief Dan Yost

Dan Yost appointed Grant Township fire chief.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

GRANT TOWNSHIP — Dan Yost, 36, has been appointed fire chief for Grant Township following the death of long-time Fire Chief Roland Brooks.

The Grant Township board approved Yost’s appointment, Feb. 2, after the firefighters voted to appoint Yost as the new chief.

Yost has been a member of the fire department for 12 years. He served as lieutenant for about four years prior to becoming assistant chief in February of last year, Yost said.

He said he is extremely “humbled” that his fellow firefighters chose him to lead the department.

There have only been five other chiefs over the course of the department’s 73-year history with Yost’s predecessors serving long leadership terms. Brooks, who died last December, was the chief for 40 years and served the department for 56 years. Previous chiefs include: Fred Webber, 1948-1958; James R. Ginn, 1959-1965; Ernie Goerbig, 1966-1973; and Ed Tutak, 1973-1981.

A display of the fire chiefs inside the Grant Township Fire Station. The late Roland Brooks, who served as chief for 40 years, handcrafted the display.

James R. Ginn, who passed away in 1980, was the grandfather of Yost’s wife Kelly, and her father James F. Ginn (Yost’s father-in-law) currently serves as captain of the fire department.

The department suffered some major losses in the past few months with Brooks’ death due to COVID-19 at the age of 82, Dec. 20, and firefighter Michael Buitendorp, 40, who died in the line of duty responding to a camper fire in Otto Township the evening of Nov. 18. Both deaths are considered “on duty,” Yost said. 

A goal as chief is “structuring” the department, he said, in the wake of their deaths.

“We need to focus on each other and focus on the department to get settled and restructure and regroup.”

Future plans are buying a new fire truck and equipment.

“Since Roland passed, we’ve been stricter about those things,” said Yost of COVID-19 precautions. Masks and temperature checks are required at the fire station.

Yost’s “day job” goes hand-in-hand with his duties as fire chief. He’s a full-time paramedic with Life EMS — a job he has had for 15 years. He also teaches courses at West Shore Community College where he serves as the EMS program director. He is also the fire training committee chairperson for Oceana County. “I kind of wear a lot of different hats.”

The Ludington native completed the fire training academy in 2009 and graduated from paramedic school in 2007. He became a state certified instructor for EMS in 2008 and fire services in 2015. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in public safety and health care management in 2019.

Yost’s wife, Kelly, is the coordinator for Grant Township Rescue. His niece, Lindsey Ginn, is also on the rescue crew.

“It’s kind of a big family thing,” he said. “Both of my brothers-in-law were on the fire department. Pretty much every Ginn around here has been on the department.”

“I got into the EMS side of it before I met my wife. When we started dating, my father-in-law said, ‘You should get on the department.’ And I thought, ‘Alright, why not?’ I was already doing EMS, and I love the fire service as well. So, the rest is history.

Other officers for the department include lieutenants Chris Aebig and Chad Bono. An assistant chief has yet to be appointed.

“I enjoy the challenge part of it. There is always something different. Not every car accident is the same; not every medical patient is the same.”

Yost said he enjoys helping people. “That’s how the majority of us got into it.” 

The new chief said he also enjoys teaching others and watching them develop as firefighters and paramedics. “It’s nice to have a small piece in their career.”

When he and his wife Kelly aren’t busy saving lives, they spend time with their three German Shepherds. 

Fire departments are always looking for more dedicated men and women to serve as firefighters. Manpower has been an ongoing issue. Oceana County recently changed its protocol for structure fires from two departments dispatched to three fire departments called. “We went to three mainly due to staffing issues. We don’t know if we’re going to get one guy or if we’re going to get 10.”

The Grant Township Fire Department covers 110 square miles including Grant and Claybanks townships and a portion of Otto Township.

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