Former GHT firefighter sentenced

A former Grand Haven Township firefighter charged with drunk driving was ordered to get counseling and sentenced to pay fines and costs.
Becky Vargo
Jun 20, 2012


Bryce Dennings, 42, was sentenced Tuesday in Ottawa County District Court.

Dennings was arrested in the early morning of Jan. 15 on Interstate 96 in Crockery Township after his car slid off the road, said Lt. Steve Kempker of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department. Dennings was not on duty and was not responding to a call at that time, Township Manager Bill Cargo said.

Dennings, a full-time lieutenant for the Grand Haven Township Fire-Rescue Department, was placed on restricted duties — meaning he would not be responding to incidents — after his arrest.

The firefighter resigned from the department on April 20, and pleaded guilty on May 8 to a reduced charge of operating while impaired.

Dennings told Judge Richard Kloote that he had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous, but had not completed the program because he did not think it was a good fit for him.

Dennings also noted he had started a temporary job.

The judge ordered Dennings to pay fines and costs of $785, or serve 70 days in jail. He also ordered him to participate in counseling and provide proof of completion.

Kloote said six months of driving restrictions would be imposed separately by the Secretary of State's Office.

Kloote said he would not put Dennings on probation, but warned him: “If you get in trouble in the next seven years, it’s mandatory jail.”

Fire Chief Tom Gerencer said Dennings was in charge of his shift when on duty, and was also in charge of the township's arson investigations.

“He was a valued employee and he’s going to be missed,” Gerencer said.




If Lt. Denning was in charge of the arson investigation program at GH Twp Fire.. then what happen to the departments arson detection dog that was purchased through a grant....


It amazes me how certain ppl run their mouths about something they know nothing
about. Presenting untruths stirs up controversy and erodes the credibility of
the agency or people involved. Please take the time to be more informed and get
your facts correct before running your mouth.

The arson dog was NOT owned by GH Twp Fire. The dog, the
supplies and the training were not financially supported by the Twp either. The
dog was brought to the Twp through State Farm Insurance and traveled throughout
the state assisting with arson investigations separate from GH Twp Fire.

Note this article
where it states:
"Gunny is fairly typical. He had to find a new career when he slipped a
hamburger right off the table in front of a blind person. Now a State
Farm–sponsored arson dog in Grand Haven Township, Mich., he’s great at his job
because he’s extremely motivated to work for kibble."

Get it right before you stir the pot!


Maybe you should get your facts correct, I believe this dog was supported by GH Twp fire and the fire budget or maybe this program was obtained under false pretenses Regardless the GH Twp fire chief has signed for this program and is responsible for it. The following information has been taken from the State Farm web site.


Funded by State Farm Insurance®
Each year, billions of dollars worth of property and hundreds of lives are lost as a result of fires set by arsonists.
State Farm® has been a sponsor of the program since 1993 and works in conjunction with Maine Specialty Dogs and the Maine Criminal
Justice Academy to train ten canines and handlers a year. Over 300 teams have been placed in departments and law enforcement agencies
throughout the U.S. and Canada.
State or local governmental agencies responsible for arson/fire investigations may apply for participation in the program. All applications are
reviewed to determine eligibility and suitability to handle arson dogs.
Once eligibility is determined, accepted applicants will be notified of the dates for the five-week training program. The application deadline for
next year’s class is August 1st. The application review process will be completed by October 31st. All applicants will be notified by November
30th if they have been selected for the program. There are two, five-week training sessions conducted annually. One in April and May and one
in August and September.
The training is conducted by Maine Specialty Dogs located in Gray, Maine. Maine Specialty Dogs develops the curriculum and oversees all
training and instruction for the program. The highly intensive five-week course includes classroom instruction, fire scene investigation, as well
as various physically demanding training exercises. The canines are trained to work around physical obstacles and discriminate scents of various accelerants used to set fires during the intensive training.
At the end of the five-week course, the teams are evaluated by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and a chemist certifies that each canine is
capable of discriminating a variety of scents from substances used to start fires. This certification is crucial because the evidence uncovered
by the canine and handler may become a key point in subsequent criminal and civil trials. A five-year commitment by the department to the
program is required.
After completing the initial five-week training, the canine and the handler become a team. Each team must recertify annually at one of the
recertification locations. If the canine is not recertified yearly or the department doesn’t complete the five year commitment, the canine will
be returned to the program or retired to the agency/handler. This decision will be made by Maine Specialty Dogs.
State Farm underwrites the program due to the problem of arson in our society. Arson dogs provide an invaluable tool for law enforcement
officials to combat the costly and deadly crime of arson.
State Farm pays for:
• The canine,
• Training fees,
• Room and board during training,
• Certification by chemist and evaluation by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and
• Reimbursement of transportation for the initial five-week class.
• The applicant is a full-time employee of the agency named above, in good health and can complete all phases of training.
• Ability to walk three to four miles a day.
• Ability to walk backwards bent over in order to throw targets.
• The agency named above
• Is responsible for arson/fire investigations,
• Supports the applicant named above,
• Five-year commitment to the program and
• Will be responsible for the K-9s care which includes but not limited to veterinarian care, food, yearly recertification at one of the
sites designated by Maine Specialty Dogs and general care for the K-9.
• If the canine is not recertified annually or the department does not fulfill the five year commitment requirement, the canine will be returned
to the program. This decision will be made by Maine Specialty Dogs.
• Maine Specialty Dogs recommends that the canine lives at the handler’s personal residence.

I, ______________________________________________, the Chief/Department Head of the Department noted above, in consideration of the
participation by _______________________________________ (here give the name of the applicant) (“Applicant”) in the Arson Dog Program, do
hereby on behalf of the Department release State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Maine Specialty Dogs, and any and all other
departments or agencies associated with the Arson Dog Program, from any and all liability for any illness or other bodily injury sustained by,
or alleged to have been sustained by Applicant arising in any way from her/his participation
Signature: ____________________________________________________________ Date: _________________________________________________


Thank you NewapaperLawyer for informing DespisesUninformed! Your original comment was not claiming that GH Twp funded the Arson Dog program but merely questioned who would now take over responsibility for the program and dog, I guess DespisesUninformed can't read well. Their comment tried to attack you for something you never said, so thank you for putting him/her in their place. According to what you posted the dog and program must be put under responsibility of someone new or State Farm will pull the program. It still would be nice to have your original question answered as to who!


Holy cow!! That was just too much for me to read, I got board after the first sentence. Great job of using the copy/paste...


The Arson dog program was terminated and the dog retired in August of last year due to the lack of support from Grand Haven Township.


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