Monday, February 3, 2020

High School Fire Ops 101

High School Fire Ops 101 is a program offered by the Rapid City Fire Department to engage high school students by providing them with an up-close opportunity to learn more about our organization and profession. The program is designed to accomplish three main goals:
  1. Educate students about their community fire department and the fire service, in general.
  2. Encourage safe habits and empower participants to become partners in providing for a safer community.
  3. Provide participants with information on how to pursue a career in fire and emergency services and educate them on the many career paths available.

We will achieve our goals by providing participants with several hands-on and classroom-based activities that cover a broad range of areas including:

-History of the Fire Service
-Organization of the Rapid City Fire Department
-Introduction to Structural Firefighting
-Emergency Medical Services
-Introduction to Wildland Firefighting
- Hazardous Materials and Weapons of Mass Destruction Response
-Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting
-Vehicle Extrication

Students must be at least 16 years of age on the first day of the program. They must be currently enrolled in a local high-school, in good academic standing, and complete the application process. Students must provide at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher, administrator, or counselor. Students that are selected for the program must have signed parental consent if under the age of 18.

The program will be limited to 12 student-participants and one member of the local media. The Spring 2020 offering of the course will be held on March 20, April 3, and April 17. The class will meet each day at RCFD Station 1, located at 10 Main Street in Downtown Rapid City. The program will begin promptly at 8:30 am each day and will conclude at 4:00 pm. A graduation ceremony will take place on April 17 at 4:30 pm at Rapid City Fire Station 1.

The High School Fire Ops 101 Application can be found below.

The application period for the Spring 2020 offering of High School Fire Ops 101 closes at 4:00 pm on February 21, 2020.

For questions regarding this program, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell at 605-394-4180.

Monday, January 27, 2020

 RCFD to Conduct Ice Rescue Training at Canyon Lake Park

Training runs through Thursday afternoon

Rapid City, S.D. – Beginning at 10:00 am on Tuesday, Rapid City Firefighters will participate in ice rescue training at Canyon Lake Park in western Rapid City. The training will be conducted Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and will conclude at around 4:00 pm each day. All on-duty RCFD resources will participate in the training and drills.

Ice rescue training is conducted annually to ensure that each member of the department has the skills necessary to perform an ice rescue. In December of 2018, firefighters from Stations 1 and 3 rescued two men from the icy waters of Memorial Pond. The rescue was conducted quickly and efficiently which is a direct result of frequent training.

The training will be clearly visible to those in and around Canyon Lake Park. Visitors to the park and motorists nearby should anticipate a large amount of emergency vehicle traffic in the area. The park will remain open during the training. Members of the public are invited to view the training from sidewalk areas nearby but are asked to avoid entering the training area. Signage will be in place to notify park visitors of the training area boundaries.

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


Monday, January 20, 2020

Seven Begin RCFD Paramedic Training Program

Program consists of 1,300 hours in just under 11 months

Rapid City, S.D. - Six employees of the Rapid City Fire Department and one member of Sturgis Fire and Emergency Services began the intense, eleven-month long Rapid City Fire Department Paramedic Education Academy last week. The program, which consists of nearly 1,300 hours of classroom and clinical education, will culminate with final testing in November. 

The RCFD Paramedic Education Academy was awarded initial accreditation by the Board of Directors of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in August of 2019. The CAAHEP Board acted upon the accreditation recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP). The RCFD stands as one of only a few fire departments in the country to have its own, in-house accredited Paramedic education program.

Once the students complete the program, they will be certified in areas such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Advanced Medical Life Support (AMLS), and Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS). Individuals that complete the program and pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) psychomotor and cognitive exams then must successfully become licensed with the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners (SDBMOE) before beginning an intense months-long Paramedic Field Training and Evaluation Program.

The department began providing Paramedic education for RCFD employees in 2016 after it was granted a Letter of Review by the CAAHEP. Since that time, 12 RCFD employees have completed the program with a 100% pass rate.

The course is led by EMS Training Specialist/Paramedic Lt. Jason Reitz. In an August 2019 interview, Lt. Reitz said of the program, “Having a program that can continually meet the demands of the Rapid City Fire Department and the community we serve is so important.” Reitz added that the importance of having quality Paramedics and a solid EMS system is important to both residents of Rapid City and the surrounding area, but to the traveling public as well.

The Rapid City Fire Department continues to see an increase in demand for Emergency Medical Services each year. In 2019 the RCFD responded to over 18,000 calls for service, a new record for the department. Of those calls for service, over 16,000 were EMS related, a 7 percent increase over 2018.

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

Rapid City Fire Department Paramedic Education Academy students, left to right:
Journeyman Firefighter/Medic Josh Kusser, Firefighter/Medic Steven Gilbert, Firefighter/Medic Kyle Steen, Firefighter/Medic Cory Eberle, Firefighter/Medic Karin Shoemaker, Journeyman Firefighter/Medic Dustin Larsen and Sturgis Ambulance Service EMT Heidi Schulz.


Monday, September 30, 2019

Sunday Apartment Fire Stopped by Sprinkler System

Rapid City, S.D. – On Sunday morning, firefighters from Stations 1, 3 and 7 responded to 4226 Kateland Street for a report of a structure fire. When crews arrived at the three-story apartment complex just before 10:00 am, firefighters found light smoke with water flowing from an outside deck. The occupant of the home had been cooking on the grill when an uncontrolled cooking fire occurred. The fire activated a sprinkler head on the balcony of the building which extinguished the fire. No damage to the building was reported.

This marks the sixth fire related sprinkler activation in Rapid City in 2019, and the fifth in little more than a month. Four of the activations have occurred in apartment buildings, one in a correctional facility and one in a large commercial occupancy.

To learn more about the importance of fire sprinklers, visit

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.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

RCFD Responds to Mobile Home Fire

No injuries reported, cause under investigation 

Rapid City, SD – Just after 7:30 pm this evening, Pennington County 9-1-1 received multiple calls reporting a structure fire at 1515 E. St. Patrick Street. Callers reported flames coming from a mobile home and extending into nearby trees. Crews from Stations 1, 4 and 6 were dispatched as well as officers from the Rapid City Police Department. When Engine 4 arrived on scene, they found a single-wide mobile home that was fully involved in fire. Two vehicles in front of the residence were also on fire with fire threatening residences on either side of the structure of origin.

With the help of Rapid City Police Officers, residences nearby were evacuated as a precaution. Firefighters were able to quickly eliminate the threat to adjacent structures and stop the forward progress of the fire. Conflicting witness statements and no one to provide accurate information on the whereabouts of the occupants of the residence prompted Rapid City Firefighters to conduct multiple searches inside the structure. Firefighters also sought assistance from the Rapid City Police Department as well as Regional Health Rapid City Hospital to attempt to locate the occupants of the structure. At about 9:15 pm, the occupants of the home were located and found to be safe. Occupants of the evacuated homes were allowed to return to their homes within about an hour.

Firefighters remained on scene until 10:00 pm extinguishing hot spots.

No injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Rapid City Fire Department.

Updates to this release are not anticipated at this time. For questions or comment related to this release, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell at 605-394-4180.


RCFD Resources Responding- Battalion 1, Truck 1, Squad 1, Engine 4, Medic 4, Engine 6, RCFD Fire and Life Safety Division, RCFD Public Information Officer.

Other Agencies Responding- Rapid City Police Department, Montana Dakota Utilities, Black Hills Energy

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

RCFD to Conduct Drills, Training in Donated Structures

Drills, training to be conducted throughout September

Above: In this October 2018 photo, Rapid City Firefighters conduct drills on West Street near Downtown Rapid City. The building was slated for demolition and was donated to the RCFD to use for training purposes.

Rapid City, S.D. - Beginning at 9:00 am on Wednesday September 11, motorists in the area of East Boulevard and East Kansas City Street will see a heavy Rapid City Fire Department presence as crews will be conducting drills and training evolution's. The evolution's are set to last for the entire month of September and will be conducted in seven separate structures that are slated for demolition sometime this fall.

Firefighters will conduct a number of training evolution's and drills related to fire attack, structural search and rescue, forcible entry, ventilation and firefighter survival. On-duty crews will participate in scheduled drills on September 11, 12 and 13. On-duty crews will also participate in training and drills as their schedule and calls for service allow throughout the remainder of the month. Rapid City Fire Department Recruit Academy 2019-1 will train in the structures late in the month.

Firefighters will utilize a number of different tools and a variety of equipment during the drills and training evolution's. Firefighters will likely be seen wearing full personal protective equipment, including breathing apparatus. A smoke machine will be used to create realistic low-visibility conditions. Live fire will not be used during the drills and training evolution's. Those living nearby or traveling in the area should not be alarmed.

The Rapid City Fire Department wishes to extend its sincere appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Hani Shafai and Dream Design International, Inc. for providing our organization with the opportunity to utilize the structures for training purposes. Currently, the Rapid City Fire Department lacks a designated training facility. The generosity extended by Mr. Shafai will help Rapid City Firefighters operate safely and more efficiently and will help us in our mission to “Prepare, Prevent, Protect”.

In October 2018, the RCFD conducted training under similar circumstances on West Street near Downtown Rapid City. A residential structure slated for demolition was donated to the RCFD to utilize for training and drills. The skills that firefighters were taught during that training were put to use just over a month later as firefighters rescued occupants of an apartment building during a fire in the 2000 block of Cherry Avenue. Rapid City Firefighters have conducted training and drills in a number of other area structures and venues recently. Last fall, the RCFD conducted training at Vickie Powers Park. The Rushmore Mall hosted search training this past March.  
Above: Under the close watch of a young admirer, Engine 4 crews participate in search training at Vickie Powers Park during a November 2018 training evolution.

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

Monday, September 9, 2019

Eleven Set to Join the Ranks of Rapid City's Bravest

RCFD Recruit Academy 2019-1 began Monday

Above: Fire Operations Division Chief Nick Carlson welcomes RCFD Recruit Academy 2019-1 on Monday morning. The group is beginning a 12-week academy to become Rapid City Firefighters.

Rapid City, S.D. -  Earlier today we celebrated the beginning of Rapid City Fire Department Recruit Academy 2019-1. A total of 11 employees will be participating in the 12 week academy-style training program that will test the candidates mentally and physically as they prepare to serve the citizens of Rapid City. Seven of the candidates have been working in an EMS only capacity since March of 2019. Four of the recruits have spent the last two weeks in an orientation process that included basic EMS training. The recruits are scheduled to graduate in early November.

The four newest recruits are:

Sheldon Brakke- Sheldon was born and raised in South Dakota. After his high school graduation, Recruit Brakke joined the United States Marine Corps serving for four years in the infantry. His service in the USMC included two deployments. Sheldon joined the South Dakota Army National
Guard in 2012 and currently holds the rank of Sergeant serving with the 842nd Engineer Company. Recruit Brakke has previous emergency services experience as a Trooper with the South Dakota Highway Patrol where he served for nearly five years. Sheldon is engaged with four children. He enjoys outdoors pursuits in his free time.

Matt Heinrich- Matt was born in Fergus Falls, Minnesota before relocating to Rapid City as a child. Working around his family ranch, Recruit Heinrich learned the values of hard work and dedication. It was while working on the ranch that he discovered his love of firefighting. As a member of the Rapid Valley Fire Department, Matt has gained valuable experience. Recruit Heinrich is engaged and has two daughters.

Evan Kleinpaste- Recruit Kleinpaste grew up in Ohio. He attended college at the University of Wyoming in Laramie where he received a bachelor’s degree. After graduation from the University of Wyoming, Evan enrolled at Casper College where he studied Fire Science and obtained an associate’s degree. Before coming to the RCFD, Recruit Kleinpaste was employed with South Dakota Wildland Fire. He is married and has two children. Recruit Kleinpaste is excited to begin his career with the RCFD.

Coleman Quinlivan- Coleman was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After graduating from Lincoln High School, he moved to Casper, Wyoming to attend Casper College and pursue a degree in Fire Science. After graduating with and associates degree, Recruit Quinlivan began his Fire Service career with the Bureau of Land Management in Casper as a seasonal firefighter. Coleman looks forward to a long and successful career with the RCFD.

The four new recruits join Larry Eide, Drew Hill, Nick Jasnoch, Deitric McConnell, Erich Peterson, Karin Shoemaker and Chad Uchytil in the academy.

We wish to welcome and congratulate our four newest members and wish all 11 members of Recruit Academy 2019-1 a successful academy. 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.