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Tag Archive | "Jeff Drake"

Area firefighters receive $310,500 grant

The grant will cover the purchase of air packs (SCBA’s) for firefighters. Photo by Joshua Sherurcij via Wikimedia Commons.

By Judy Reed

Three area fire departments have been awarded a regional grant from FEMA to purchase 45 SCBA’s (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) and 12 extra face pieces for $310,500.

Capt. David Barnes, of the Cedar Springs Fire Department, researched and wrote the grant, and both Solon Township Fire and Sand Lake Fire Departments were included in the submission.

The grant is a 10 percent matching grant, which means that they will receive $279,450 from FEMA, and the fire departments will pay 10 percent, or $31,050. 

Cedar Springs will get 15 of the SCBA’s and four extra face pieces and pay $10,350; Sand Lake will get 14 SCBA’s and four extra face pieces and pay $9,680; and Solon will get 16 SCBA’s and four extra face pieces, and will pay $11,020.

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake applauded Cedar Springs Fire Capt. Barnes for the work he put into the grant. “He has invested many hours in this project beyond his typical delegated responsibilities. He was diligent and proficient in obtaining the necessary data, from both the Sand Lake Fire Department and Solon Fire Department, as requested from FEMA,” said Drake.

“In addition, I am very proud of the ability for all three agencies to join together cooperatively to pursuit this regional award. I think there was a minimum chance of a successful grant if each agency had written individually. The discount that will be afforded by the successful vendor with this bulk purchase will be substantial and demonstrates great fiscal responsibility.”

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Family escapes house fire

This  home in Solon Township was damaged in a fire early Monday morning. Post photo by J. Reed.

This home in Solon Township was damaged in a fire early Monday morning. Post photo by J. Reed.


Home is former schoolhouse

By Judy Reed

A faulty chimney is believed to have caused a house fire in Solon Township earlier this week.

According to Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake, they were called to the home at 811 21 Mile Road, on the NE corner of 21 Mile and Albrecht, at 5:55 a.m. Monday morning, February 9. He said that the homeowner, Daniel Vazquez, woke up and went to feed some wood into a newly installed wood burner, in the back of the house, and noticed smoke. He and his wife, two children and dog got out safely. When he went outside, there was smoke and flames coming from around the chimney and roofline.

N-Fire1-21-Mile-and-Albrecht-webDrake said that when the first engine arrived on scene, flames were coming through the roof and back of the house. Sand Lake, Algoma, and Kent City assisted at the scene, and Cedar Springs was on stand by in case Solon had any other calls.

The fire reignited on Tuesday morning, but Drake said that’s not uncommon in homes with cellulose insulation, and it was quickly put out.

A fire investigator ruled the cause as a faulty chimney.

Drake said that the home was not currently habitable, but could be repaired. He estimated damage at about $100,000 to the house, and $20,000 to the contents.

Clothing and other types of donations (such as gift cards) for the family can be dropped off at Cedar View Elementary.

The Hoag School before it was converted to a family home.

The Hoag School before it was converted to a family home.

The home, which has been renovated, was once a rural schoolhouse called Hoag School. Not much is known about it, but according to info from The Cedar Springs Historical Society, Lena Reichelt Caldwell wrote a piece about Hoag School for a new book they are putting together. She said the school was named after Lyman Hoag Sr. His son, Lyman Hoag Jr., later married Mittie Ross, who was hired by Hoag, Sr. to teach at the school in about 1890.

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Solon firefighters receive badges

Solon Township Firefighters Russell Papke (left) and Josh Putnam (right) were presented their badges this week by Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake (center).

Solon Township Firefighters Russell Papke (left) and Josh Putnam (right) were presented their badges this week by Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake (center).

Two members of the Solon Township Fire Department received their badges Tuesday night, in a ceremony at the Township board meeting.

Firefighters Russell Papke and Josh Putnam received the honor, presented by Fire Chief Jeff Drake, as a result of their completion of the Michigan Fire Fighter’s Training Council Firefighter I & II exam.

Papke was hired in August 2013, and is employed by the Michigan Army National Guard, and works at Fort Custer in Battle Creek. He and his wife, Anna, live in Solon Township with their 8-year-old twin boys, Nolan and Leyland.

Putnam was hired in June 2011. He works at Profile Industrial Packaging, and has been youth pastor for Maranatha Baptist for 11 years. He and his wife, Amy, live in Solon Township with their daughter, Olivia.

“I am proud to recognize the commitment and sacrifice you have endured by completing this task and providing a level of competency, compassion, and licensure to the Solon Fire Department,” wrote Chief Drake, in the letter of recommendation for the firefighters.

The firefighters were required to take 256 hours of instruction and eight hours of exams to complete the training.


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Solon home catches fire

Above shows smoke rolling out the upstairs slider door during the fire, as firefighters work to extinquish the flames in the basement. Post photo by B. Sanderson

Above shows smoke rolling out the upstairs slider door during the fire, as firefighters work to extinquish the flames in the basement. Post photo by B. Sanderson

An exhaust fan in a basement bathroom could be responsible for the fire at a Solon home last Saturday, April 26.

According to Belinda Sanderson, who lives at 4499 16 Mile Road, she smelled something funny but couldn’t figure out what it was. Eventually she saw smoke coming out of a pipe in a furnace room, which ran alongside where the exhaust fan was, about 11 p.m.

The family and pets got out safely.

Both Solon and Cedar Springs responded to the scene.

The bathroom ceiling is where the fire is believed to have started.

The bathroom ceiling is where the fire is believed to have started.

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake said the fire was confined to the bathroom area, and they believe it started from an electrical short in the bathroom vent fan. They did rip down the ceiling in the basement to get at the fire, and used a thermal imaging camera to see if there were hotspots in the walls.

Drake said they estimate the damages at $10,000 to structure and $10,000 to contents. The family is currently staying with relatives.

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Quick response saves group home

Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Solon Township Fire Chief Jeff Drake credits a new mutual automatic aid system with neighboring fire departments for keeping an adult foster care home from being consumed by fire last week.

Fire broke out at the home at 2690 Wiersma, in Solon Township, about 6:14 p.m., on Thursday, February 6. Drake said that they when they arrived on scene at 6:21, there was heavy fire and smoke at the front of the home. Fortunately, due to the MABAS agreement (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System), Cedar Springs, Kent City, and Algoma Fire Departments were automatically dispatched at the same time, giving Solon plenty of manpower to get the fire under control quickly.

Post photo by M. Ford.

Post photo by M. Ford.

Drake said that the fire had spread into the attic and got to the trusses. “There was minimal damage inside, but 50 percent of the roof will need to be replaced,” he explained.

He said the fire started on the front porch. A resident who had been smoking in the designated area disposed of the cigarette butt properly in a “butt hut,” but it was packed full and started on fire, melting the plastic. “They had failed to clean or maintain it,” explained Drake.

He estimated the loss at $50,000 property, and $5,000 in contents. The owner, Spectrum Health, is insured.

“It was an awesome save. An incredible save, really, considering the weather. We just recently set up the MABAS agreement, and it’s already paid its dividends,” he remarked.

Drake said he would especially like to thank the three departments for their cooperation and responding quickly to the scene. “If we didn’t have that agreement, and had waited 10 more minutes before calling them, it might’ve been a different story,” he said.

He said 22 of 28 Fire departments in Kent County are now participating in MABAS. Those who have agreements with neighboring fire departments respond automatically to all structure fires.

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Fire ravages mobile home


N-Fire2A Solon Township family is homeless for the holidays after a fire destroyed their mobile home Wednesday morning.

According to Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake, he received a call at the fire station at 9:39 a.m. from a neighbor reporting the fire at 2280 18 Mile Rd, which is west of Algoma. Drake was on scene within minutes but the mobile home was already gone.

According to Kent County Sheriff Deputy Ryan Guernsey, the neighbor said she heard what she thought was several gunshots and didn’t think much of it, but then she looked out the window and saw the mobile home in flames.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department supplied their engine and manpower at the scene to put out the fire.

A couple and two children lived in the home, along with several pets. Drake said that the family had left at 6:30 a.m. and so was not at home at the time of the fire. The cats were believed to be outside, but it is unknown whether the dog was in the home at the time.

Drake said the cause of the fire could not be determined. The family, who was renting the home, was uninsured. The home was a total loss. It is estimated the family lost $5,000 in contents. The assessed value of the home by the Township was $27,000.

Drake said the family is staying with other family members.

For those who would like to help the family financially, we’ve been told that an account has been set up for them at Choice One Bank in Cedar Springs. If you have donations of clothing or other items, contact Vonda Hendges at (616) 293-8282. The girls are 5 and 8 years old, and wear sizes 5 and 8. Also needed are women’s 6/7 in pants and medium in tops; and men’s 32-32 pants and medium shirts.

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