The young boy thought “what an awesome job" to be a fireman.
Many years later, and nearly 15 years into his own firefighting career, Sipe, 37, accepted command of the Spring Lake Township Department during a pinning ceremony Monday night at township Fire Station No. 2.
“If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here today,” Sipe emotionally thanked his family.
Samantha Sipe pinned the new badge and rank bugles on her husband’s shirt, while Sipe held onto their 2-year-old son, Owen. Their older son, Sam, is named for his grandfather, Sam Schutter.
“I’m doing what I love to do,” Sipe told the group of firefighters, family, friends and township officials attending the event.
Sipe grew up in Muskegon and graduated from Western Michigan Christian High School.
“I moved down to Spring Lake about 17 years ago, believe it or not, to get on the fire department,” he said.
Sipe said he was both honored and humbled to be the township's fire chief.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of this job is being able to work alongside such a great group of men and women who make up our fire department,” he said.
Also honored during the evening were several Spring Lake Township Fire Department officers with new promotions.
New captains are Steve Bruneau and Scott Smith.
Bruneau has 25 years in the fire service, with 21 in Spring Lake. He is an emergency medical technician and a member of the Ottawa County HAZMAT Team.
Smith has served 13 of his 14 years as a firefighter with Spring Lake. He is currently training to become an EMT.
Bruneau was surprised during Monday's ceremony when his father, Joe Bruneau, stepped forward to do the pinning. Joe is the former Grand Haven fire chief and first director of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.
Also, township firefighters Thea Dornbush and Matt Dilley were promoted to lieutenant.
Dornbush has 16 years in the fire service, including eight years in Spring Lake. She is an EMT, fire instructor and member of Michigan’s L.A.S.T. team, which assists families and fire departments after the death of a firefighter.
Dilley has six years in the fire service, all at Spring Lake. He is a paramedic and recently completed training to become a fire inspector.
Sipe and John Stalzer joined Jim Koster as deputy fire chiefs for the township when Rick Nuvill retired as chief in February. The Township Board recently approved hiring Sipe as chief.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.