De Lass named Firefighter of the Year

Marie Havenga • Dec 14, 2017 at 4:00 PM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — J.P. De Lass says he loves his volunteer firefighter job — and, apparently, his fellow volunteer firefighters love him.

They nominated De Lass as Spring Lake Township's Firefighter of the Year for 2017.

Ottawa County Commissioner Roger Bergman presented the award to De Lass on Monday night.

De Lass, who has worked for the department for 22 years, said he was surprised.

“We've got a lot of great people on the department,” he said. “I think any one of them would have fit the bill just perfect for that (award), too.”

De Lass, who has operated De Lass Garden Market in Spring Lake for 28 years, said being a volunteer firefighter is another way to serve the community.

“Ultimately, it lets me use my gifts to serve people,” he said. “I love the group we have in our department, from the leadership on down. It's a great time. It's fun working with these guys — even through, when we work, we typically go to somebody's worst day. When you enjoy who you're working with, with everyone working together like that, it makes it extra special.”

De Lass also credited the Spring Lake Township Board and staff for supporting the department.

“I think our department is in a really good spot right now,” he said. “We've got great support from the township and we work really well with area fire departments.”

Township Fire Chief Brian Sipe said the award is special because the winner is selected by his or her peers. Sipe said De Lass' fellow firefighters had high praise for him, commenting on his positive attitude, dedication, leadership and for being a “great example to everyone on the department.”

Township Supervisor John Nash said firefighters are a special breed.

“Finding good people who want to be firefighters, who are willing to go through all the necessary training, and respond to calls late at night, in bad weather and often witness tragic events, is more difficult nowadays,” he said. “Spring Lake-area residents are very blessed to have such a great fire department.”

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