Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018

Vehicle vs Building Results in Fire

No injuries reported after afternoon crash and fire

Rapid City, S.D. – Rapid City Firefighters battled a wind driven, natural gas fed fire at an East Rapid City grocery store earlier this afternoon. Just before 2:30 pm, firefighters from three Rapid City Fire Department stations responded to a report of a vehicle that hit the back of Fresh Start Neighborhood Market near the intersection of Elk Vale Road and Homestead Street. The vehicle was reported to be on fire. An additional alarm was struck and firefighters from the Rapid Valley Fire Department as well as an additional Rapid City Fire Department engine company were dispatched to the scene.

Above: A car on a trailer that became dislodged from the vehicle pulling it burns at the rear of the Fresh Start Neighborhood Market near the intersection of Elk Vale Road and Homestead Street.

 A trailer hauling a passenger car broke away from the pick-up that was pulling it, rolled down hill and into the back of the business. The collision resulted in serious damage to an electrical junction box. The collision caused the vehicle to catch fire. The resulting fire damaged the gas meter on the back of the building. That damage resulted in free flowing natural gas which accelerated the fire.  Smoke that was being pushed by sustained winds approaching 40 miles per hour began to fill the store as well as the adjoining liquor store and casino. Patrons and employees quickly evacuated the building. No one was injured as a result of the crash or during the evacuation.

Firefighters arriving on scene found heavy smoke conditions inside the store as well as outside of the building. They were able to stop fire from progressing into the building and were able to use large volumes of water to continue to cool the building and the surrounding area until the flow of natural gas could be stopped.

Above: Firefighters work to extinguish a vehicle fire and cool the area around a broken natural gas line at the rear of the Fresh Start Neighborhood Market near the intersection of Elk Vale Road and Homestead Street.

Because of the fire and the damage to the meter, Montana Dakota Utilities was forced to dig underground and clamp the gas line feeding the store in an area to the south of the building. This also resulted in a temporary disruption of service to nearby Black Hills Federal Credit Union. Once the flow of gas was stopped, firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire and mop up remaining hot spots. Once the store was ventilated, it was discovered no fire had extended inside the store. The store, however, did receive some smoke and water damage as a result of the incident. 

Above: Montana Dakota Utilities crew work to locate and access a natural gas line to help Rapid City Firefighters extinguish a natural gas fed fire at Fresh Start Neighborhood Market near the intersection of Elk Vale Road and Homestead Street.

Strong winds, with gusts over 50 miles per hour, hampered firefighting efforts. The wind, in addition to pushing smoke and fire toward the building, made application of water difficult and limited the use of RCFD aerial apparatus. Because of the strong winds, the 100-foot ladder of one apparatus could only be deployed at a low angle on the leeward side of the building.

Above: Firefighters from RCFD Truck Company 3 ladder the roof of the Fresh Start Neighborhood Market near the intersection of Elk Vale Road and Homestead Street to check for fire extension into the roof after a crash and fire late this afternoon.

All road closures and traffic restrictions were lifted at about 5:00 pm local time. Rapid City Firefighters remained on scene until about 5:30 pm.

In addition to the Rapid Valley Fire Department, the Rapid City Fire Department was assisted by Montana Dakota Utilities as well as West River Electric, the Whispering Pines Fire Department, the Rapid City Police Department, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, the Pennington County Fire Administrator and an additional Public Information Officer from the Battle Creek Fire Department. The Rapid City Fire Department would also like to thank the employees of Fresh Start Neighborhood Market and Black Hills Federal Credit Union for their cooperation and patience during the incident.

There were no reported injuries to civilians or fire service personnel during the incident.

The cause and circumstances surrounding the crash are under investigation by the Rapid City Police Department.

For questions or comment related to this release, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer for the RCFD, at 605-394-4180.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

RCFD Reminds Property Owners to Keep Fire Hydrants Clear

Clearing snow from around hydrants saves precious time

Above: A fire hydrant in Downtown Rapid City sits properly cleared to allow firefighters to work freely in the event it should be needed.

Rapid City, S.D. - It is well documented that, because of modern construction and modern furnishings, structure fires burn hotter and faster than ever before. This contributes to occupants having less time to escape than in the past. When fires burn hotter and faster it also reduces the amount of time that time it takes for structural components of a building to fail. For firefighters, this is why getting water on the fire as quickly as possible is so important. 

In Rapid City, the average amount of water carried by the internal tank on board one of our fire engines is about 700 gallons. Each of our engines has a pump that has the minimum capacity to pump up to 1,000 gallons of water per minute. It is easy to see why, at capacity, our tank water doesn't last long. To remedy this, we need to establish a water supply. In the urban setting, that generally means we will utilize a fire hydrant. 

Many people don't realize that it can be very difficult for us to locate the nearest hydrant when we arrive on a fire scene. Bushes and vegetation, vehicles, and poor visibility due to smoke or darkness can all contribute to that difficulty. One of our big concerns at the present time is snow. While we certainly welcome the moisture, piles of snow can prove to be problematic when it comes to locating fire hydrants.

When we arrive on scene, our standard is to establish a water supply within 90 seconds. A firefighter will exit the engine, grab the five-inch Large Diameter Hose (LDH) and drag it to the hydrant. Attached to the LDH is something we call a hydrant bag. The hydrant bag has a hydrant wrench used for opening caps and turning valves, spanner wrenches for tightening fittings, a gate valve for stopping and starting water flow without shutting off the main valve, and a connection to connect hose without threads to the hydrant. 
Above: Firefighter/Medic Mitch Hove uses tools and appliances from the hydrant bag to connect a five-inch Large Diameter Hose to the hydrant for use.

Even when the hydrant is visible, if snow isn't cleared from around the hydrant, it  can cause difficulty in making the connections and makes it much more difficult to locate and keep track of the tools from the hydrant bag. Snow that isn't cleared from around the hydrant can double or triple the amount of time it takes to establish a water supply. Having a reliable water supply is essential to firefighter safety. Those additional minutes could prove to be costly both in terms of property loss and the safety of firefighters.

The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to ask homeowners, property owners, and business managers to ensure all fire hydrants on their property are cleared of snow and easy for firefighters to access. When clearing snow, please give three (3) feet of clearance around the hydrant. It's best if the snow is cleared down to the ground. Make sure there is an opening to the curb to allow us a clear path to drag hose to the hydrant. 

Our organization strives to be as efficient as possible when it comes to responding to emergencies. The help of our community is greatly appreciated when it comes to making sure that we can quickly and efficiently establish a much needed water supply on the scene of a fire.

For questions or comment related to this release please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer for the Rapid City Fire Department, at 605-394-4180.

Above: LDH from a nearby hydrant connects to a fire engine pumping to a fire during an October 2016 fire on E. Anamosa Street in Rapid City.  


Public Advisory- Rapid City Slash Pile Burning

Rapid City, SD - Slash pile burning will take place in the Springbrook Acres area of Rapid City. The piles are remnants of an extensive fuels reduction project conducted by the Rapid City Fire Department under the direction of Lt. Tim Weaver. The burning is being conducted by a private contractor. Ignitions are expected to last for a period of at least two days. The burning is being allowed as a result of the significant snowfall that occurred over the period of the last 48 hours. The snow cover is expected to persist into the foreseeable future.
Slash pile burn operations shall comply with Rapid City and Pennington County Air Quality Ordinances and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards. 

In a statement, Lt. Weaver said; “These piles are being burned as a continuation of the wildland fire hazardous fuel reduction project in the Springbrook Acres common area that has taken place over the past 2 years.” Weaver went on to say; “This hazardous fuel reduction project exemplifies the Rapid City Fire Department’s desire to create fire resilient landscapes with in the city limits in areas that are at risk for catastrophic wildfire behavior. This is part of our Survivable Space Initiative which helps landowners in Rapid City create fire adapted landscapes on their property.”
Smoke and flames will be visible clearly on Sheridan Lake Road from the area of the burning operation. Smoke may linger for several days after the piles burn down. The RCFD along with Springbrook Acres will continue to monitor the area in the days following the project. Please DO NOT call 9-1-1 to report the burning piles.
Additonal burn permits have also been issued to the South Dakota National Guard 4/piles located on their property west of 44th St.

For more information on the prescribed burning, please contact Lt. Tim Weaver at (605)-394-5233.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Family of Eight Displaced After Late Afternoon Fire

Five children safely escape fire

Rapid City, S.D. – Five children between the ages of 13 and 3 escaped a late afternoon fire that caused serious damage to their home off of Sheridan Lake Road. At 4:30 pm, crews from Stations 1, 3, 5, and 6 of the Rapid City Fire Department responded to 2617 Castle Heights Place for a report of a structure fire. When crews arrived, they found heavy fire in a garage that was situated below a single family residential structure. Crews were able to quickly knock down the fire in the garage. When firefighters entered the living area of the structure, they found that fire had extended into that portion of the home. It took firefighters about 2 hours to completely extinguish the fire, mop up hot spots and complete salvage operations. 

Firefighters were faced with poor road conditions, bitter cold temperatures and near blizzard conditions while fighting the fire. These conditions created a number of different challenges.

Five children between the ages of 13 and 3 where home at the time of the fire. The children noted the smoke and began to quickly evacuate the structure. When they realized that their primary way out of the structure was blocked by thick smoke, they utilized their secondary exit to evacuate the structure. The children- some of whom did not have shoes on when they evacuated- ran through the near blizzard conditions to the safety of a neighbor’s home which they had identified as a meeting place. The neighbor assisted the children with calling for help and remained a place of refuge until the arrival of the American Red Cross serving Central and Western South Dakota. The children reported that they learned how to quickly and safely evacuate their home while at school.

In total, eight occupants have been displaced by the fire and are being assisted by the American Red Cross serving Central and Western South Dakota. There were no reported injuries to firefighters or civilians.

The Rapid City Fire Department was assisted by the Rapid City Police Department, Whispering Pines Fire Department, as well as the Pennington County Fire Administrator. Montana Dakota Utilities and Black Hills Energy also responded to the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Rapid City Fire Department.

The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to urge families to develop and practice a home fire escape plan. As was demonstrated today, having a plan that is known and practiced by every member of the family could save your life or the lives of your family members. Learn more by visiting our website at

For questions or comment related to this release, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer for the Rapid City Fire Department, at 605-394-4180.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

RCFD Responds to Fire in Apartment Building

Single sprinkler head activates, spares building from significant damage

Rapid City, S.D. – A Rapid City apartment building is spared significant damage after a late morning fire was snuffed out by the buildings fire sprinkler system. Just after 11 am this morning, Pennington County 9-1-1 dispatched Engine 6 to a report of an automatic fire alarm at 2880 Belgarde Boulevard in the Stoney Creek Highlands complex. Moments later, a caller reported a fire in the bathroom of one occupancy and additional units from Stations 1, 4, and 5 were dispatched.
Above: Engine 6 on scene at 2880 Belgarde Blvd. earlier today.

When units arrived, the fire was mostly extinguished by a single sprinkler head from the fire sprinkler system. Building maintenance was already on scene and worked with Rapid City Fire Department crews to quickly stop the flowing water. Remaining hot spots were completely extinguished with less than 2 ½ gallons of water from a Rapid City Fire Department fire extinguisher.

One occupant of the apartment was evaluated by Rapid City Fire Department Paramedics for minor burns. The individual refused treatment or transport and was released.
Above: One individual was evaluated by RCFD Paramedics for minor burns. That individual refused treatment and transport.

Rapid City Firefighters assisted building maintenance with initial water removal. The property was turned back over to building maintenance and management a little over an hour after the initial alarm was called in. According to maintenance, tenants of two of the building occupancies will be temporarily displaced in order to complete water removal and maintenance.

This incident is a clear illustration of why the Rapid City Fire Department advocates for fire sprinkler protection. The building in which the fire occurred today has a total of 17 individual apartments. A number of those apartments are occupied by individuals with mobility challenges. Fire sprinklers are the single most effective means to prevent death and injury from a fire. Sprinklers are especially important for those who cannot escape without assistance, those who may not hear the alarm when sleeping, or those with synthetic furnishings (foam, pressboard, plastic, nylon) in their home. 

The time to flashover in today's homes has been dramatically reduced due to lightweight construction materials, open room designs, and carpeting and furnishings made of synthetic materials that burn hotter and faster than those in older homes. Those factors have combined to reduce the amount of time that an occupant has to escape from a burning home.

Today, the fire was largely extinguished before the arrival of the first fire engine. Instead of a lengthy rescue, suppression, salvage and overhaul operation, crews were able to work with building maintenance to quickly stop the flowing water and begin to address salvage operations. While it is unfortunate that occupants of two apartments will be temporarily displaced, tenants of 15 other apartments will be able to remain in their homes. Had a larger fire occurred, this likely would not be the case.

To learn more about fire sprinkler protection, please visit our website by clicking on the following link:

For questions or comment related to this release, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer for the Rapid City Fire Department, at (605)-394-4180.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Drills, Training Help Firefighters Prepare to Rescue One of Their Own

Rapid Intervention training will continue throughout the week

Rapid City, S.D. - Loud music, sirens and alarms are all part of a training being conducted this week to help Rapid City Firefighters prepare to rescue one of their own should the need arise. Under the direction of Lt. Hunter Harlan, Rapid City Firefighters are participating in Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) training this week in Rapid City.

A Rapid Intervention Team is a group of firefighters who are specifically designated to provide for the safety of firefighters at an emergency incident. The responsibilities of a Rapid Intervention Team can include ensuring easy ingress and egress for those firefighters operating inside of a building, ensuring accountability of firefighters operating inside of a hazard zone, and -if the need arises- rescue of downed or trapped firefighters. Situations in which firefighters are in need of emergency assistance are known as "mayday" situations.

Functioning as a member of RIT requires that firefighters possess a set of skills that ensure their ability to function quickly and efficiently in a mayday situation. Early in 2017, the Rapid City Fire Department placed specialized RIT equipment on all large fire apparatus. This ensures that no matter which crews is on scene and assigned to RIT, they have the proper gear to perform in that capacity. This includes operating on incidents as part of a mutual aid assignment outside of the city.

Above: Members of Engine Co. 6 prepare for a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) assignment during a drill this week. The mission of RIT during this training is to rescue a firefighter who has become disoriented and is low on air.

The specialized RIT pack includes an air bottle for firefighters who are low on air. Specialized quick connect fittings allow firefighters to quickly attach the full bottle to a low bottle and do so in low light, low visibility environments while wearing gloves that limit dexterity. Cutting tools, webbing and carabiners are also part of the RIT pack.

Above: A specialized pack that can be deployed by RIT's in the event that a firefighter is in need of rescue. The air bottle inside the pack features quick connections for use in low visibility conditions with limited dexterity,

During the week, RCFD members are taking part in lecture and discussion training activities at morning briefing. The discussion centers on procedures and policies regarding RIT as well as different theory and considerations for a Rapid Intervention assignment. Throughout the day, each on-duty crew will rotate through a drill session at a local training facility.

The drill involves a scenario in which a firefighter has become disoriented in a low light, low visibility environment, is low on air, and is in need of rescue. The RIT firefighters must navigate this environment that also includes loud music, alarms and sirens meant to increase the stress level for the rescuers and cause difficulty in communicating. Once firefighters reach the simulated victim, they must drag them back to safety. During the evolution, firefighters are closely monitored by instructors through use of a thermal imaging camera (TIC). At the completion of the drill, a discussion is held between participants and instructors to find out what went well and what can be improved for next time. Despite their hard work on the training ground this week, Rapid City Firefighters hope that their Rapid Intervention skills are never needed.
Above: Firefighter/Paramedic Rob Thompson navigates a dark, smoky environment to search for a simulated victim during RIT drills this week.

Above: Engine Co. 6 is viewed during RIT drills through the use of a thermal imaging camera (TIC). The TIC detects differences in temperature and is utilized during poor visibility conditions.

Above: Utilizing webbing and carabiners, firefighters from RCFD Engine 6 work to extricate a simulated down firefighter during RIT drills this week. 
Above: Students and instructors discuss the RIT drill and look for areas in which to improve on. The group also discussed items that were performed well.

For questions or comment related to this post, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer for the Rapid City Fire Department, at 605-394-4180.