RAPID CITY, SD – The Rapid City Fire Department has received approval from the City’s Department of Legal and Finance to purchase and construct a fire training tower and incinerator.
The passage of Senate Bill 51 in the 2022 state legislature appropriated $2 million to the Department of Public Safety to provide equipment for firefighter training and recruitment across the state. The Department of Public Safety is awarding $850,000 of those funds to the Rapid City Fire Department to build a firefighter training facility.
The facility will serve as a regional training center not only for the fire department, but also for other first responders, public safety officers, emergency responders and dispatchers.
“This facility will not only be used for fire, but the police will come out and do that. So when we do specific training with similar SRT team and providing access to the buildings, and then we can do joint training with them so that as the police come through, they can set up a scenario. We can have a medic following them and behind you can have spot fire. There’s even talk of Game Fish and Parks coming in and doing some of their training at our facility with a wildland component at that range when it’s all done. ” said Brent Long, EMS Division Chief of Operations.
“It’s going to help us not only train local firefighters, but train everyone in West River so they can come here and use these facilities,” he said. “Having a facility like this would allow us to be able to host large events like state fire schools and bring in firefighters from all over the state.”
The city previously donated eight acres of land on South Creek Drive for the facility, and construction on the tower is slated to begin next year.
“It’s going to be incredible training for the fire department, especially in western South Dakota where we don’t have anything like this right now,” Long said.
Senate Bill 51 also appropriated $1 million for mobile wildfire simulation trailers to provide training to volunteer fire departments across the state and $150,000 to hire and retain municipal and volunteer firefighters.
“Pretty much every volunteer organization in South Dakota, whether it’s fire or EMS or EMS, they’re all scrambling for participants. People just don’t have time anymore. And during this time, you know, the economic crisis, people are more interested and have to work, and we have to support our families. And so everyone is looking for volunteers,” Long said.