Firefighter Arthur C. Hill, of the St. Joseph Fire Department, died on September 6, 1896, along with 11 other firefighters, during a wall collapse at the Yore’s Opera House in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Both the St. Joseph Fire Department and the Benton Harbor Fire Department lost firefighters that day. On September 8th, 1896 a huge memorial ceremony was performed at the old Central School yard. A Bronze Sculpture of a Fireman carrying a small child was dedicated in St. Joseph Michigan on May 31, 1898. The statue remains today and is a symbol of the fire departments and all who risk their lives, whether it be as a paid employee or a volunteer fire department member. Another memorial for the Benton Harbor fireman stands in Crystal Springs Cemetery, in the “fireman’s circle”. The cause of this fire was never determined.
Firefighter Edward H. Gange, of the St. Joseph Fire Department, died on September 6, 1896, along with 11 other firefighters, during a wall collapse at the Yore’s Opera House in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Both the St. Joseph Fire Department and the Benton Harbor Fire Department lost firefighters that day. On September 8th, 1896 a huge memorial ceremony was performed at the old Central School yard. A Bronze Sculpture of a Fireman carrying a small child was dedicated in St. Joseph Michigan on May 31, 1898. The statue remains today and is a symbol of the fire departments and all who risk their lives, whether it be as a paid employee or a volunteer fire department member. Another memorial for the Benton Harbor fireman stands in Crystal Springs Cemetery, in the “fireman’s circle”. The cause of this fire was never determined.
Captain Jeff Brozich passed away after suffering a fatal heart attack while on duty on March 1, 2021.
Jeff was a loving father, stepfather, and devoted husband. Jeff was the second son of Rich and Marion (Beth) Brozich, brother to Bob and Rick Brozich. Jeff had a contagious laugh and a big heart. Everything he did in his life was to help a friend or family member. He enjoyed seeing others happy.
Jeff was hired by the Madison Heights Fire Department in 2000. Over his 20 years of service, Jeff received several commendation awards. The biggest achievement in his career was his graduation from Eastern Michigan University School of Staff and Command. From 2003 to 2008, Jeff served as a SWAT medic for the Oakland County SWAT team. Jeff was promoted from firefighter to sergeant in 2011, lieutenant in 2016, and captain in 2019.
From 2000-2020, Jeff responded to approximately 10,121 calls for service, which includes medical and fire runs. He commanded several fire scenes and made numerous lifesaving decisions within seconds of arriving on scene. Jeff was truly a decorated fire captain and is missed at the firehouse every day.
At home, Jeff was a father to his beautiful daughter, Brianna, stepfather to Lucy and Milo, and devoted husband to his wife, Lindsay. He loved being a dad. He always made sure he spent time with Brianna. In a paper Brianna wrote, she mentioned memories of playing board games, swimming in the pool, and riding bikes with her dad. Jeff enjoyed coaching Bri’s softball team and working on pitching with her as often as he could. Brianna was the light of his life.
Jeff loved Lucy and Milo, too. He would make them laugh by launching them in the pool and doing what they called “Frankenstein” every night at bedtime. He taught Milo how to ride a bike and worked with Lucy on her hitting and pitching skills in preparation for softball. Lucy would dance on his feet in the kitchen, and Milo would play board games with him.
Jeff was recently married to his wife, Lindsay, on November 1, 2019. He was a loving and devoted husband. Jeff and Lindsay talked a lot about travel and hiking. Date nights often consisted of shooting pool (where Jeff usually won) or heading downtown to the casino. Jeff and Lindsay enjoyed life together.
Jeff’s infectious laugh and smile is missed every day by all his loved ones. His memory will live on forever in our hearts, and we will continue to honor him every day. He will be remembered for his big heart and endless love.
On September 15, 1962, the world was blessed with Franklin Delano Williams Jr. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Franklin Delano Williams Sr. and the late Del Jeannette Murphy. Franklin was a dedicated son, husband, brother, father, grandfather, and friend. He accepted Christ at an early age. He was a man of God, strong in his faith.
Franklin was educated in the Detroit Public School system, graduating from Denby High School in 1982. While at Denby, he was a football and track star and was voted Most Athletic Player. Franklin received a Brick Masonry Certification from Golightly Vocational School in Detroit. In 1988, he joined the Detroit Fire Department as a firefighter. Franklin nobly served, dedicated, inspired, and mentored new cadets while serving with the Detroit Fire Department and rose to the rank of captain. He always went above and beyond to get the job done. Everyone he came in contact with was impacted by him.
Franklin met his soulmate, Shanita Williams, on October 17, 2004, while she was tailgating and he was passing by on the fire engine. From their first date on October 24, 2004, they were inseparable. They married on May 8, 2010, and Shanita Williams became Shanita Williams-Williams.
Franklin had many leisure activities. He had a fond love for golfing and played on courses throughout Michigan and all over the world. He was an avid Detroit Lions fan who, along with his wife, proudly held season tickets. He was also a coach for many years with the Police Athletic League (P.A.L.), coaching for the Eastside Cowboys, the Detroit Dragons, and Crockett. He impacted the lives of his players in the same manner as he encouraged his new cadets. Franklin was Past Master of Redeemer Lodge 53. Franklin was an extraordinary cook and a Jack of all trades. If he didn’t know how to fix it, he would do the research and learn how.
On April 8, 2020, Franklin left his earthly home and was received into his heavenly home. He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving wife, Shanita Williams; his father, Franklin Williams, Sr.; children, Carolyn Rivers (John), Ashley Williams, Franklin Williams III, Andre Johnson, Dorian Williams, Georgia McCaughan, and Jordyn Williams; five sisters; two brothers; grandchildren, Amir Williams, Robert Terry (RJ), Rylee Davenport, and Brayden Davenport; dog, Jack, and cat, Cuba Kitty; a host of nieces and nephews; in-laws; and his many brothers and sisters in the Detroit Fire Department and all First Responders.
Sivad believed in getting the most out of life. Raised in a Christian household, he believed in the BIBLE: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. He believed in investing quality time with loved ones, and he loved serving and protecting others. His parents gave him a name to honor his heritage and foretell a future of significance. His first name is his mother Reada’s maiden name, Davis, spelled backward. His middle name, Heshimu, is a Swahili word translating to respect, honor, or courage.
Following in the footsteps of his father, William, who served as a US Army combat medic in Vietnam and 20 years with the Detroit Fire Department, Sivad became a firefighter, as did his younger brother, Jamal. Sivad earned a promotion to sergeant and numerous citations throughout his 26-year career, including the 2017 Detroit Public Safety Foundation’s Above & Beyond Awards Medal of Valor.
Sivad was a public speaker, gifted artist, and loving father of two. He had a colossal heart for people, especially his daughters, Kyndall and Hayden, and his ex-wife, Suzette. His love for the City of Detroit nurtured his team spirit and commitment to the community, leading him to design fashions extolling its virtues. As a keynote, panelist, and member of Toastmasters International, Sivad spoke to youth groups, students, and adults. He appeared on stage and national radio with The Moth, a nonprofit group dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. He also shared inspirational messages on T-shirt designs and YouTube. One of his mottos was “Bravely do or bravely die!”
On August 21, 2020, Sivad made the ultimate sacrifice to help rescue three girls from drowning, a heroic team effort with other civilians. The City of Detroit honored him with a memorial service, a new fireboat named for him, and a Spirit of Detroit Award. The Detroit Public Safety Foundation posthumously awarded Sivad its Above & Beyond Awards Purple Heart. The Trump administration sent a letter of condolences to his family from The White House, recognizing Sivad’s “courage and selflessness” to protect and help others, representing “the best of America.”
The week before Sivad’s earthly departure, he and his daughters visited his sister Eboni’s family in Georgia. A dual goal was to have her begin editing a short manuscript he had just completed while investing quality time. He often said, “This Instant Means Everything,” a phrase he coined as an acronym for TIME. To honor his legacy, his sister posthumously published his book, Becoming A Diamond: The Strongest, Most Valuable Version of You.
Michael J. Buitendorp of New Era, Michigan, passed away unexpectedly while responding to a fire call for the Grant Township Fire Department on November 18, 2020.
Mike was born March 24, 1980, in Fremont, Michigan. His parents, David and Cindy (Dueling) Buitendorp, raised Mike in Fremont, where he loved riding his bike and hanging out with his friends. The one thing Mike always talked about, even as a little boy, was his dream of being a firefighter. It would be some years before that dream came true, but it was worth it to him.
Mike worked his early adult years as a truck driver until 2013, when he went to college and received a bachelor’s degree in information technology from Baker College. He married Anna Jimison on January 11, 2014. Together, they had two beautiful boys, Redding and Andrew. They also shared two amazing children from previous relationships, Jasper and Isabel.
Mike was employed as the IT director for Shelby Public Schools for five years and served as the IT coordinator for the county for a short period before passing. Mike became a member of the Grant Township Fire Department on July 25, 2017, and later served with the Grant Township Rescue Squad.
Grant Township Fire and Rescue became Mike’s second home! He was a very dedicated member and made sure he made every call possible. His team members could always count on him to be there, jumping in with both feet. He was so proud to be a firefighter, and he showed it every single day.
He is missed not only by his family, but also by his community.
Captain Joseph M. Liedel, who served with the Monroe Township Fire Department in Monroe, Michigan, for close to 30 years, died on Sunday, August 23, 2020, after falling ill on July 31, 2020, while responding to an emergency call.
Coming from a firefighting background, his father and his uncle retired after 30 years from the City of Monroe Fire Department.
In his youth, Joe was involved in the fire explorer training program through Monroe Township. When he came of age, he proudly joined the ranks as a firefighter. He selflessly responded to tens of thousands of incidents in Monroe County. Joe, along with other Monroe firefighters, traveled to New York City to assist at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has served as a firefighter, lieutenant, and most recently as captain. His achievements also included completion of Firefighter I and II, Fire Officer I and II, and Ice Water Rescue.
The brotherhood in the fire service can only be explained by a firefighter. It’s a feeling you can’t explain; it’s in your heart and soul. It is a love of the job and the people who make it up. It has a direct impact on your blood family and your fire family. Joe was a firefighter for 28 years.
Thank you for your service, Captain Joseph M. Liedel.
Joseph Todd Gallo was born February 23, 1986, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, to Todd and Michelle Gallo. Joe graduated from Blissfield High School in 2004. He was an Eagle Scout.
Joe always wanted to be a firefighter and, at age 16, bought his first vehicle, a 1961 Ward LaFrance fire truck.
He spent his career building a dedicated and ambitious reputation. Joe joined the Blissfield Township Fire Department in 2014. The fire department promoted him to captain in 2017. In 2018, the Madison Township Fire Department also hired Joe as a firefighter and EMT. He worked at least two shifts every week, while simultaneously serving as the fire captain for Blissfield Township.
“He was always ‘that guy,’ the one you knew you could count on,” Blissfield Township Fire Department Chief Dale Fruchey said.
“Joe had a passion for the fire service. He was probably one of the most passionate firefighters I’ve known in a long time,” Madison Township Fire Department Chief Ryan Rank said.
Joe died November 17, 2020, doing what he loved most, responding to a barn fire. Joe is survived by his parents, Todd and Michelle; brother, Zachary (Lauryn); nephew, Sawyer; and many family and friends.
Steven Splan was born on January 30, 1974, in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Troy High School, Class of 1992.
After high school, Steven joined the Troy Fire Department, Station 6, where he served until 2005. He then joined the Bloomfield Hills Department of Public Safety, where he served for 15 years. His robust career accomplishments including being promoted to sergeant and serving as the department’s fire investigator.
Steven adored his family and friends; he was known for his love of people. Steven also had a passion for golf, woodworking, and music. He enjoyed home remodeling with his wife, Sara. He had four girls, Megan, Emily, Elizabeth, and Meredith.
He is also survived by his mother, Donna Conrad; his mother and father-in-law, Terence and Melinda Jenkinson; his sister, Stacy (Scott) Ritchie; his brother-in-law, Daniel (Renee) Jenkinson; and extended family. He was preceded in passing by his father, George Conrad.
Benjamen (Ben) Lauren was “born for this.” He reminded everyone within shouting distance of that every time the tone of the pager called him to duty. Ben was a third-generation volunteer firefighter and grew up helping and participating at the Forsyth Township Fire Station located in Gwinn, Michigan, the center of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Ben was a get-the-job done kind of guy who as a small boy began doing the chores farm kids do. He loved the haying season where a day filled with work and laughter with cousins and family would undoubtedly turn into star-filled evenings of joyful chatter under the favorite maple tree of the family farm. Ben loved to laugh and goof around, but working was his play.
Ben’s interests were plentiful, but his premiere fascination was the volunteer fire department. He and his siblings were often “on-scene” in their car seats as little babes, watching their dad. Ben enjoyed the big trucks and the flashing lights. As he matured, his fascination became determination. He joined the fire department as a cadet at age 14, certified as a firefighter at age 18, and then became a captain at age 22. He was a man of moral integrity, passion, and a work ethic that was applauded within the community. Even as a young man, Ben was a leader. He was determined to learn and succeed and took pride in his work and actions. Ben was unwavering in his ability to enjoy each day and was always willing to help a friend or stranger. He would shrug off any praise stating, “It’s just what we do. Pass it on!” His strong Christian faith was easily displayed in his actions.
Ben’s long work hours didn’t bend his smile. He was known for the joy he brought into the room when he entered. Ben entertained himself and laughed the hardest at his own “dad” jokes. He was a lover of country music and used music and songs to bare his heart. Every song had a message he would use to share his feelings. He was a teaser, a joker, and a loyal friend. He was a go getter that held a presence well beyond his young years. He had a contagious smile that drew babies to his arms and respect from his elders. Ben had a positive impact with everyone he interacted with.
Ben lived a life chock full of memories, but the unmade memories are the hardest to bear. Along with his community, fellow firefighters, friends, and close-knit family, Ben is grieved by his parents, Ron and Carla, and by his two siblings, Tori and Levi Lauren.