DAFD Chief Robert Smith (left) with 2019 Firefighter of the Year Lt. Michael Grissom (right)

| 2 min read | by Doug Marrin | |

Lieutenant Michael Grissom of the Dexter Area Fire Department is Washtenaw County’s 2019 Firefighter of the Year. An experienced firefighter when there is an emergency, it is Lt. Grissom’s work behind the front lines that have earned him the honors.

“Going out to help people is the easy part of our job,” says DAFD Chief Robert Smith who submitted Michael’s name for the award. “There’s so much more that we have to do to make sure those runs happen. Mike is a good command officer at a scene, but his work in the background is what prompted me to submit his name for consideration.”

The Washtenaw 100 Club gives out the annual Firefighter of the Year Award to the firefighter who exceeded the duty requirements expected of his/her position.


The Washtenaw 100 Club supports first responders in Washtenaw County in a number of ways by,

  • Providing immediate funding to the families of Washtenaw County law enforcement or firefighting personnel killed in the line of duty.
  • Furthering the education of children of law enforcement and firefighting personnel in Washtenaw County through scholarship funds.
  • Analyzing and supporting the emotional and material needs of families of law enforcement and firefighting personnel killed in the line of duty.
  • Entertaining special equipment needs requests of law enforcement and firefighting departments and assisting in fulfilling the needs wherever possible.

Lt. Grissom is no stranger to accolades. The Dexter Area Fire Department has twice chosen him Fire Fighter of the Year. The Washtenaw 100 Club award comes to Michael for work you don’t normally associate with firefighting – improving communication.

Lt. Grissom facilitated the use of the mobile app “Active 911,” which puts the pertinent information for a call right into a first responder’s smartphone. In addition to medical information, the app shows the location of hydrants, the location of other emergency vehicles in the area, and what type of vehicles have responded.

Viewed here on a laptop, this is how the app “Active 911” appears on a first responder’s phone.

Active 911 also enables responders to communicate with one another efficiently. The app replaces the outdated, problematic CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system where first responders would receive a printout and transmit vital information from there.

Michael also found a way to repurpose radios destined for destruction. Deftly moving around the red tape that governs every action of a fire department, Lt. Grissom salvaged specific components of hand-held radios to help improve some failing receivers in the Sheriff’s department.

“I think the body of work that Lt. Grissom did over the last year, not just for the Dexter Fire Department, but for the county, the county fire chiefs and working with dispatch components, is substantial because he didn’t just take care of Dexter,” says Chief Smith. “This award was an opportunity to get him recognized for that.”

When asked what the 2019 Firefighter of the Year Award meant to him, Lt. Grissom uncomfortably shifted in his seat and said, “It’s not about me. The award is humbling because I don’t expect to be recognized for what I’m doing. I’m just trying to do what I think is right for everybody. Let’s make it better for us all.”

DAFD Lieutenant Michael Grissom

“I was at a meeting with the Washtenaw County fire chiefs when the Firefighter of the Year was announced,” Chief Smith said. “Every fire chief in the county and their officers have worked with Mike. The response was very supportive, and they agreed with the decision of the Washtenaw 100 Club. Mike has had an impact throughout the county in emergency services as a whole. He’s right there caring, passionate about the Dexter Area Fire Department as well as Washtenaw County as a whole.”

Lt. Grissom will be formally presented with the 2019 Firefighter of the Year Award at the Washtenaw 100 Club’s annual dinner on October 24.


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