First female career firefighter in Van Buren Co. takes new job


After more than 20 years, Dawn Hinz is making a career change in pursuit of another passion.

SOUTH HAVEN, Michigan — More than 20 years later, Van Buren County’s first female firefighter, Dawn Hintz, is putting on a helmet for another passion.

She hopes her journey will inspire other young girls to pursue their dreams.

Hinz was on duty this week as a firefighter paramedic for the South Haven Fire Department.

“The decision to wear a fire hat was the hardest decision of my life. You know, it’s been part of my identity for over 20 years.

It was when he was in his third year of high school that he decided to become a firefighter.

“I liked the challenging aspect and the versatile direction. You have the brave side of firefighting and the critical thinking side of EMS,” says Hinz.

As the first full-time female firefighter in Van Buren County, she faced some challenges.

“I was under intense scrutiny to get the job done. I made it.

She was welcomed into a “brotherhood” like a second family.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie in the fire department, a lot of comedy and jokes. That part is a lot of camaraderie.”

After seven years in the covert fire department and 14 years in South Haven, Hintz is looking to make a career change.

She will be the wellness coach for Richland’s Athletic Mentors.

“I have loved gym class since I was a child and I want to share that passion with others and help them make healthy choices so they can live longer.

For girls considering entering a male-dominated industry, Dawn advises:

“Know that you can do it. You have to be skilled. And yeah, you can come a long way,” Hintz said.

Hinz is a true trailblazer who has paved the way for others and continues to make a difference in the community.

Dawn passed the torch to the next generation. The South Haven Fire Department now has two more full-time female firefighters.

Her son has also followed in her footsteps. He just graduated from fire school.

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