Friday, November 9, 2018

Firefighters, Bystanders Perform Multiple Rescues During Morning Fire

Heroic efforts result in no injuries after Cherry Avenue fire

Rapid City, S.D.- An early morning fire in an apartment building forced bystanders and firefighters to make multiple rescues before being brought under control. At 6:30 am this morning, crews from Rapid City Fire Department Stations 1, 4 and 6 were dispatched to a report of a structure fire with persons trapped at 2021 Cherry Avenue. Pennington County 9-1-1 was fielding multiple calls reporting the fire and calls from individuals inside the structure who reported being trapped.

As crews arrived, employees from Collins Siding– located across the street from the apartment building– were completing the rescue of a female occupant from the balcony of one of the apartments. Crews reported that the employees were carrying the individual down the ladder much like a firefighter would. On arrival, there were heavy smoke and fire conditions throughout the structure.

Above: Conditions encountered by crews on arrival.
(Photo by Firefighter/Paramedic Kevin Sosa)

As the crew from Truck 1 completed a 360 degree assessment of the building, window blinds in a basement window could be seen moving. The crew quickly broke the window and extended a ladder into the basement apartment. The occupant of the apartment was able to lie, face-down, on the ladder and was pulled from the burning building by firefighters. This technique was taught and practiced by Rapid City Firefighters exactly two weeks ago during drills in the 700 block of West Street. This morning, their training proved to be invaluable.

In addition to the two aforementioned rescues, at-least four other individuals were assisted from the building by bystanders and firefighters. As a result, no serious injuries and no fatalities occurred. The American Red Cross serving Central and Western South Dakota was called to the scene and is assisting occupants with immediate needs such as lodging, clothing, and medications. Several occupants of the building were evaluated by RCFD Paramedics. All individuals declined treatment and transport.

It took fire crews 30 minutes to stop the forward progress of the fire. Crews remained on scene extinguishing hot spots until about 9:30 am this morning.

The cause and circumstances surrounding the fire are under investigation by the Rapid City Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Division and the Rapid City Police Department.

No injuries to firefighters or responders were reported.

The Rapid City Fire Department wishes to extend its profound thanks to neighboring businesses for their assistance and thoughtful gestures during this incident. In addition to performing a rescue, Collins Siding employees opened their building to displaced occupants, provided rooms for fire investigators to conduct interviews and provided refreshments and food for firefighters. We would also like to thank the Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons for their generous offering of snacks and refreshments to firefighters and responders.

The incident this morning could have had a very, very tragic ending. Were it not for the heroic actions of civilians and first responders, the outcome would have been much, much different.

Additional releases of information from the Rapid City Fire Department regarding this incident are not anticipated at this time. Please contact Lt. Jim Bussell at (605)-394-4180 for questions or comment related to this release.


RCFD Units Responding:  Truck 1, Squad 1, Medic 1, Battalion 1, Engine 4, Engine 6, Medic 7
Other Agencies Responding: Pennington County 9-1-1, Rapid City Police Department, South Dakota Highway Patrol, Pennington County Search and Rescue, Whispering Pines Fire Department, Pennington County Fire Administrator, Black Hills Energy, Montana Dakota Utilities, Midco, City of Rapid City Water Division, American Red Cross serving Central and Western South Dakota

Monday, October 1, 2018

Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters

Homes, businesses invited to light up red to show support

Rapid City, S.D. - Every October, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) sponsors the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, the official national tribute to those firefighters who died in the line of duty during the previous year. This year’s Memorial Weekend will be held October 6-7, 2018 in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The weekend includes specific activities and group sessions and culminates with a Memorial Service on Sunday morning. Thousands attend the programs and services each year.

On Saturday evening, the families of the fallen gather at the Memorial for a Candlelight Service. As dusk turns to dark, landmarks across the country will glow in respect to the fallen and their families for Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters. This nation-wide lighting is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), as part of the weekend. Last year, some of the most iconic building and bridges participated in honoring our fallen.  They included:  One World Trade Center in New York City, the Bank of America Plaza in Dallas, One Liberty Plaza in Philadelphia, the Prudential Tower in Boston and the Willis Tower in Chicago.

Lighting of buildings, bridges and landmarks in red during the Candlelight Service on October 6th, or any time during the week of October 1st, would be an additional symbol of support and comfort to the families being honored and whose loved one is being remembered. 

To learn more, visit


Monday, September 24, 2018

Warm Coats, Warm Hearts Coat Drive

Donations being accepted at four locations in Rapid City

Rapid City, S.D. - With winter right around the corner, many people in our community are in need of winter clothing to help them stay warm. The Warm Coats, Warm Hearts Coat Drive is taking place now until November 3rd in Rapid City. Donations of new and gently used winter clothing items are being accepted at 4 locations in Rapid City.

  1. Rapid City Fire Station 1, 10 Main Street, Rapid City
  2. Gateway Autoplex, 123 Omaha Street, Rapid City
  3. Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, 2611 Elderberry Boulevard, Rapid City
  4. Pennington County States Attorney, 130 Kansas City Street Suite 300, Rapid City
A distribution event will take place on November 10 from 11 am until 1 pm at Gateway Autoplex. In addition to clothing distribution, a meal will be served. 

Thank you in advance for your help in making sure that everyone in our community is able to stay warm this winter.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Rapid City Receives FEMA Grant

Grant aids homeowners in pre-wildfire mitigation efforts

Rapid City, S.D. - Rapid City has received a FEMA Pre Disaster Mitigation Grant for replacing combustible exterior building materials in Rapid City’s primary Wildfire Hazard Zone. This grant is one of many different grant programs available through Rapid City’s Survivable Space Initiative. This initiative helps Rapid City homeowners living in wildfire hazard areas create homes and property that are more adapted to wildfire. 
Above: Areas shaded in red are within Rapid City's primary Wildfire Hazard Zone. 

Most homes destroyed during catastrophic wildfires are ignited by burning embers, or fire brands.  Combustible exterior building materials are vulnerable to these burning embers and significantly increase how ignitable the home is during wildfire events. Ignition of combustible roofs or cedar shake shingles is one of the top contributors of home destruction during wildfires along with combustible siding and decking products.

In many cases, roofs comprised of combustible material are older and are not easily replaced due to hail or wind damage. Many times the cost of total replacement is a burden that the homeowner is faced with if they are concerned about the wildfire vulnerability of their home.  These costs can be out of reach for most homeowners. As a consequence, these highly flammable and dangerous roofs remain on many homes in wildfire prone neighborhoods.

This FEMA grant is designed to aid in the cost of replacing these highly flammable roofs with Class A fire rated roofing products and put the cost of replacement in reach for the homeowner.  There is a match requirement for each home, along with fuel mitigation requirements for the property that must be performed to further reduce the homes vulnerability in a wildfire.   

The Rapid City Fire Department will be applying again soon for more combustible exterior building material replacement grants.  If you have a cedar shake roof, siding, or wooden decking surfaces and live in the primary wildfire hazard area, contact Lt. Tim Weaver for more information concerning this, and other mitigation grants available for fuel reduction on your property. Lt. Weaver can be reached at 605-394-5233 or via email at


Monday, May 14, 2018

National Sprinkler Awareness Contest

Official Rules and Information

Win a one-night hotel stay!

Celebrate National Fire Sprinkler Awareness Day May 19, 2018, and win a one-night hotel stay for your Sprinkler Selfies. Post a selfie of you and your fire sprinkler with “#sprinklerselfie” and comment “I’m protected at [location]” to this post.  On Friday, May 18 at 4:00 PM we will randomly select two Sprinkler Selfies for a stay at Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort in Deadwood or Fairfield Inn & Suites in Rapid City.

Each entry must be a unique person and location combination. For example; If you have fire sprinklers at your work, at your two children’s school, and at home, you could submit up to six entries: 1 of you and your work fire sprinkler, 1 of each of your children in their school, and one of you at home, one of the older child at home, and one of the younger child at home. You would need to post each of the six photos with #sprinklerselfie and reply to this post 6 separate times with I’m protected at work, I’m protected at school, I’m protected at school, I’m protected at home, I’m protected at home, and I’m protected at home.

Learn more about the need for home fire sprinklers at

A big thank you goes out to LIV Hospitality for the one-night stay Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort and the one-night stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites gift certificates. Gift certificates must be used before March 31, 2019, and there are some blackout dates.  

For questions about fire sprinklers or contest rules, please contact Fire and Life Safety Specialist Monica Colby at 605-394-5233.

#sprinklerselfie #firesprinklerssavelives

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

An Open "Thank-You" to Our Local Media

Yesterday, multiple emergency services agencies from across Pennington County responded to a particularly dangerous and dynamic incident involving a fire at an ammunition manufacturing facility on the edge of the communities of Box Elder and Rapid City. There was a significant public impact and an abundance of danger for those nearby.

Today, I wish to take the opportunity to thank a group that provided a great deal of assistance with the incident that many times does not get the thanks that is deserved. The group that I'm referring to is our local media.

While some of my counterparts across the nation struggle with their media relationships, I enjoy my relationships with our media. We are all respectful of each other’s positions and responsibilities. I try to be aware of their needs and deadlines. They are almost always respectful of the fact that I may not be able to immediately get them what they need but will do my level best to try.

Yesterday, as the incident continued to unfold, our media did an outstanding job in being flexible. In particular, I was very pleased with their patience as we moved staging locations multiple times. As we worked to evacuate businesses and close roads, local media outlets did a great job of helping to disseminate that information. Today, I have spent considerable time wading through the accumulation of articles, videos and social media pieces covering the incident. I honestly feel as though the local media did great work in finding a balance between telling the story and providing public safety information.

Again, on behalf of myself and the Rapid City Fire Department as well as the agencies involved in yesterday’s response, thank you to our local media for your professionalism and for your hard work. It did not go unnoticed.

-Lt. Jim Bussell
Public Information Officer
Rapid City Fire Department

Thursday, April 26, 2018

RCFD Recruit Academy Underway

Academy includes eight new hires, seven previous hires

Rapid City, S.D. – The Rapid City Fire Department is pleased to introduce eight individuals who began their careers as Rapid City Firefighters on April 16. The eight employees are beginning their second week of the Rapid City Fire Department academy. They will be joined in the academy by seven employees that have been working in an EMS only capacity since November of 2017. The academy is an eleven-week training program that will test the candidates mentally and physically as they prepare to serve the citizens of Rapid City.

Steven Sprague: Recruit Sprague was born and raised in Rapid City. Steven says that he has long dreamed of being a Rapid City Firefighter and he is excited that his dream is now a reality. Steven and his girlfriend have three sons and a daughter. He enjoys backpacking, snowboarding and martial arts.

Charles Siferd- Charles Siferd is a native of Kenosha, Wisconsin. At the age of 17, Recruit Siferd obtained his EMT certification. He then went on to become a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy Reserves and is currently attached to the 4th Marine Division. Charles has since obtained Paramedic certification and is excited to begin a career in fire and EMS in Rapid City.

Cody Heupel- Cody Heupel is a certified Paramedic. Cody brings with him previous fire and EMS experience with the Sturgis Fire Department and Sturgis Ambulance Service as well as the Keystone Ambulance Service. Cody is married and has an eight month-old son. When he is not serving his community, Cody enjoys outdoors pursuits and is an avid Colorado Avalanche fan.

Tyra Wheeler- Tyra Wheeler was born and raised in San Diego, California and comes to the RCFD after a nearly 11 year career with the Imperial Beach Fire Department where she reached the rank of Engineer/Paramedic. There, she was the department’s first female firefighter. Tyra and her husband, Chase, are currently working toward their goal of operating a cattle ranch that would serve as a retreat for combat military veterans, law enforcement and first responders. 

Ethan Esposti- Ethan Esposti is a Black Hills native that was born and raised outside of Keystone, South Dakota. Ethan is a graduate of Hill City High School. Recruit Esposti gained fire service experience as a member of the Battle Creek Fire Protection District and the Keystone Ambulance Service as well as the Hill City Ambulance Service. Recruit Esposti is a certified Paramedic and enjoys outdoors pursuits and ice hockey.

Wade Waugh- Wade Waugh is originally from Paxton, Nebraska where he was a 2012 graduate of Paxton High School. Recruit Waugh is a graduate of Chadron State College with a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Agribusiness and Finance. Wade has previous fire and EMS experience as a member of the Chadron Fire Department. In December of 2017, Recruit Waugh obtained his Paramedic certification. He is excited to be a Rapid City Firefighter.

Roy Kottwitz- Roy Kottwitz is also a life-long resident of the Black Hills. Recruit Kottwitz was born and raised in Piedmont, South Dakota and is a graduate of Sturgis Brown High School. Recruit Kottwitz is a second generation firefighter following in the footsteps of his father who was a firefighter at Ellsworth Air Force Base as well as Piedmont Fire Department. Roy has been a volunteer with Piedmont Fire and Piedmont Ambulance for a number of years as well as a full-time Piedmont Fire Department employee for the last six years.
Nick Knotek- Recruit Knotek was born and raised in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Nick obtained his Paramedic certification in 2017 at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska. He was a volunteer firefighter in Crescent, Iowa and worked for a private ambulance company in Omaha, Nebraska. In his spare time, Recruit Knotek enjoys playing guitar and rock climbing in his free time.

Congratulations and welcome to these eight fine individuals. We are pleased to welcome them to the Rapid City Fire Department Family. 

For media inquiries, questions or comment related to this release, please contact the Rapid City Fire Department at (605)-394-4180.

Above: Recruit Class 2018-1