Monday, October 31, 2016

USFS Plans Prescribed Burn for Tomorow, 11-1-2016

Rapid City, S.D. - The United States Forest Service has planned a prescribed burn for November 1, 2016. Please see the release below for more info.

The RCFD is augmenting the USFS release of information to help prevent 9-1-1 calls reporting the prescribed burn from being made. Last week during the Whaley Prescribed Fire, Pennington County 9-1-1 received a high volume of calls reporting the burn. Local fire stations also received a number of calls.

Follow Great Plains Fire Information at current updates.


 Long Draw Prescribed Fire Planned Tuesday, November 1, 2016 near Hill City, SD

Rapid City, SD, October 31, 2016 – Black Hills National Forest Central Zone Fire is planning to ignite 1,100 acres on the Long Draw project on Tuesday, November 1, weather permitting.

This project is located approximately 5 miles south west of Hill City, SD near Newton Fork Road, south of Reno Gulch road, Odakota Mountain and west of the Medicine Mountain Boy Scout Camp.

The goal of the Long Draw Prescribed Fire is to establish and maintain a mosaic of vegetation conditions over the project area. This project will lessen the severity and extent of future wildfires in the project area by breaking up the continuity of dead, downed fuels, ultimately reducing fuel loads. Fire will also be utilized as a tool to thin pine regeneration and increase canopy base heights. Additionally, the burn will stimulate browse for big game species.

“Low intensity fire benefits the landscape by cleaning the forest floor and destroys diseases and insects that prey on trees,” said Adam Ziegler, Burn Boss Trainee. “It provides valuable nutrients that enrich the soil and heat needed for seed germination.”

Fire reduces competition for nutrients by removing debris and weaker trees and allows established trees to grow stronger and healthier.

The water supply is increased when fire removes a thick stand of shrubs. With fewer plants absorbing water, streams have more water to benefit plants and animals.

Smoke will be visible from Rapid City, Hill City, Custer, SD, surrounding areas and from Highway 16/385.  Smoke will be visible in the days following ignition and firefighters will remain on scene monitoring the burn for as long as needed.

Weather conditions will be monitored closely to assure prescribed fire conditions align with management objectives for the burn.

For more information on Black Hills National Forest prescribed fire, visit

Follow Great Plains Fire Information online at: for current fire and prescribed fire updates.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

RCFD Crews Gain Quick Knockdown on Grass Fire

Rapid City, S.D. - Rapid City Firefighters were called to an early-afternoon grass fire today near 15 E. North St. At 12:25 pm, crews from stations 1 and 7 responded to the report of a grass fire burning between the railroad tracks and mobile homes on E. Watertown Street. When crews arrived 5 minutes later, they found a fire burning on a slope above the tracks and below the homes.

The Rapid City Fire Department has responded to a number of fires in this area over the past several years. With that in mind, crews took advantage of favorable weather, resources on scene and capitalized on the opportunity to reduce hazardous fuels in the area. With solid containment lines in place, crews conducted a burnout operation on hazard fuels inside of the containment lines. This fuels reduction project also helps to minimize threats to neighboring residences in the future from grass fires similar to todays.  

The fire and subsequent fuels reduction project burned less than 1/4 acre. The fire was determined to have been human caused. The Rapid City Police Department was on scene speaking with neighbors. There were no injuries reported.

As the continued unseasonably warm and dry weather continues, so does the increased fire danger. The Rapid City Fire Department reminds everyone to be careful with heat sources and sources of ignition. Those outdoor enthusiasts who are driving and parking their vehicles should be mindful of where their vehicles are parked and refrain from parking in tall, dry vegetation. Sportsman are encouraged to keep a fire extinguisher in their vehicle, carry a shovel, exercise caution and pay close attention as they go about their outdoor pursuits. 

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

Above: Crews perform a burnout operation between the fire and mobile homes on E. Watertown to minimize future grass fire threats.

Above: Firefighters build containment line to stop fire spread near homes on E. Watertown St.

Above: A firefighter uses a hose to spray water to keep a tree from igniting.

Above: Rapid City Firefighters perform a burnout operation to reduce hazard fuels.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 28th is Winter Weather Preparedness Day

In South Dakota, October 28th has been designated as Winter Weather Preparedness Day. While our current weather pattern does not necessarily lend itself to thinking about winter weather, South Dakotans know how quickly things can change. Now is a great time to make sure that you and your family are ready for whatever comes our way.

One of the first things that you can do to prepare is to educate yourself as to what different watches, warnings and advisories issued by the National Weather Service mean. A "Winter Storm Watch" means that there is significant potential for hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. Again, a watch does not mean that hazardous winter weather is imminent, it simply means that it is possible. A "Winter Storm Warning" is issued when these conditions are imminent or occurring. The criteria for both can be found here

One of the biggest issues that we, as a department, encountered in 2013 during Winter Storm Atlas was the number of people stranded as a result of not heeding the watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service. In one particular instance, two of our apparatus became stuck as a direct result of other motorists becoming stuck and blocking the road. This occurred near Wal-Mart on the south-side of Rapid City. As the storm ramped up, many people then made the decision to go get provisions at that time instead of doing so ahead of time. This had a definite impact on our ability to respond to emergencies in that area. Stranded motorists then required help that, in-turn, compounded an already difficult situation. 

Significant winter weather can pose many different hazards. In South Dakota, one of the major issues we deal with is impacts to travel. It is important to heed travel advisories and restrictions. If you must venture out, there are several things to keep in mind. First, let others know what your travel plans are including a timetable and your planned travel routes. If possible, it's best not to travel alone. You also want to make sure that you have plenty of fuel and that your vehicle is in good, working condition. Of course, a winter survival kit is very, very important to have in your vehicle. Items in the kit should include:

• Shovel and flashlight with extra batteries 
• First aid kit and medications 
• Non-perishable food, such as granola bars & nuts 
• Candles and matches • Extra clothing, sleeping bags, or blankets 
• Jumper cables and tire chains 
• Battery-operated radio 
• Cell phone with fully charged batteries 
• Windshield scraper and brush 
• Brightly colored cloth to tie on the antenna so the vehicle can be easily located

If you become stuck or stranded, do not leave the vehicle. Call 9-1-1 to notify them that you are stranded and give your location. You can find more information on what to do if stranded by visiting the Pennington County Emergency Management website here.

In addition to being prepared for winter travel, there is always the potential that you may be stuck indoors for long periods of time. The Rapid City Fire Department is among the many organizations that recommend building an emergency kit for your home. This kit will hep you and your family stay safe and self-sufficient for up to 72 hours during many types of emergencies, including winter storms. 

Your emergency kit should contain the basic essentials that your family will require in the event of an emergency. Your kit should be tailored to meet the unique needs of each family. There are many great resources out there to help guide you as you build your kit. The American Red CrossFEMA, and Pennington County Emergency Management all have printable resources on their websites to help you build your own kit.

As this post is being written, it is sunny and 65 degrees outside. "Old Man Winter" certainly does not feel like he is anywhere close. Those of us living in "The Land of Infinite Variety" know, however, that things can change very, very quickly. Take the time now to prepare for upcoming winter weather to help keep your family safe and comfortable during the storm.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Early Morning Apartment Fire in Downtown Area

Rapid City, S.D. - An early morning fire in a five-unit apartment building resulted in no injuries, but has displaced seven occupants.

At 5:49 am, units from three Rapid City Fire Department stations responded to a report of a structure fire at 1018 Columbus St. in Rapid City. When crews arrived six minutes later, they noted heavy smoke coming from windows and a door on the top floor of a two-story apartment building. Flames were visible from at least one upstairs window.

Crews entered the building and encountered heavy smoke and high heat. It took them about 15 minutes to knock-down the visible flames. Additional crews made entry into adjacent apartments to notify residents and help them to evacuate the building.

Crews found that fire had extended into the walls and the attic. Operations to overhaul- a process to find hidden fire and heat- were extensive. Crews were on scene until just after 9 am to complete that process.

Fire damage was limited to the apartment where the fire is believed to have started and the adjacent hallway. Significant clean-up of smoke and water damage will be required throughout the rest of the building. For that reason, all occupants of the structure will be displaced, at-least temporarily. The American Red Cross, serving Central and Western South Dakota, was on scene and is assisting all occupants with immediate needs.

The Rapid City Fire Department was also assisted by Montana Dakota Utilities, Black Hills Energy, the Rapid City Police Department and Pennington County Search and Rescue.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Rapid City Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Division.

There were no civilian or fire service injuries reported.

The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take the opportunity to remind you that working smoke alarms and a well-practiced escape plan are essential to help keep you and your loved ones safe in the event of a fire. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly and replaced every ten years. It is also important to have and practice an escape plan. An escape plan should include two ways out of every room in the home as well as a meeting place. Practice your plan at least twice per year.

Please contact Rapid City Fire Department Public Information Officer Lt. Jim Bussell at (605)-394-4180 with questions related to this release.


Firefighters look for hot spots in the “overhaul” process. The smoke and heat line is clearly visible on the walls either side of the firefighter pictured. This is a clear illustration of why it is important to stay low and evacuate quickly whenever there is a fire in your home. This is the hallway where crews entered to extinguish the fire.

Firefighters work to locate hot spots in the “overhaul” process. During this process, heat spotters, thermal imaging cameras (TIC) and even the senses are used to locate hidden heat. Careful consideration is paid to limiting damage and conserving property.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Six New Recruits Begin RCFD Careers

Rapid City, S.D. - On Monday, six new individuals began their careers with the Rapid City Fire Department. They have joined with six new employees that began in August and are now all taking part in a 10-week academy. The recruits are set to graduate in mid-December and will begin riding apparatus at that time.
Brian Shearer is a 2009 graduate of Rapid City Stevens HS. Brian enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he was in the infantry and served on a deployment to Afghanistan. Brian is married with one young son. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hunting and fishing.
Jesse Bean was born and raised in Wasilla, Alaska. Jesse is a 2012 graduate of Dakota State with a degree in Education. Jesse has previous experience in the fire service as he was employed by the Mitchell, SD Fire Department for two years.
Jacob Maggart is originally from Iowa. After high school graduation, Jake joined the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman in 2009. Jake deployed to Afghanistan in 2010/2011. After he ended active duty, Jake moved to Denver, CO with his wife, Cindy. Jake is excited to begin a career in fire and emergency services after spending the last few years working in an office job.
Tanner Urbaniak is a native of Sturgis and a graduate of Black Hills State University with a degree in Biology. Tanner has four years of experience with the Sturgis Fire Department and two years of experience with the Sturgis Ambulance Service. Tanner is currently enrolled in Paramedic training.
Ben McKee was born in Rapid City and grew up in Hill City. Ben is a 2013 graduate of Hill City High School. Ben has previous fire service experience with the United States Forest Service where he spent three seasons and has been a member of Hill City Ambulance Service for the past four years. Ben graduated Paramedic training in 2015.
Steve McCollar grew up in Sioux Falls and moved to the Black Hills in 1999. Steve started his fire service career in 200 as a volunteer with the Sturgis Fire Department. In 2003, Steve began a career with the Rapid City Fire Department. He left the department in 2014 to pursue other interests. Steve is excited to return to the Rapid City Fire Department and for a renewed opportunity to serve our community. Steve has two sons, ages 11 and 13. They enjoy outdoors activities in their free time.
The Rapid City Fire Department is excited for our new-recruits to begin their careers and believe that they will have long, and fulfilling careers as Rapid City's Bravest. 

Please contact Rapid City Fire Department Public Information Officer Lt. Jim Bussell at (605)-394-4180 with questions related to this release.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Early Morning Fire on City's South Side

Rapid City, S.D.- Rapid City Fire crews extinguished an early morning residential structure fire just before 5 am this morning.

At 4:43 am, crews from stations 4, 1, and 6 were dispatched to 4111 Wild Flower Dr. for a report of a structure fire. When Engine 4 arrived four minutes later, the crew found smoke and flames coming from a wall between the main door to the residence and the attached garage. All occupants of the home were out prior to fire crews arriving.

The fire was quickly knocked down. Crews then worked to ensure that there were no hot spots. The fire was completely extinguished in less than an hour. Fire damage was limited to the garage area of the structure. Minor smoke damage occurred in the living area of the home.

The American Red Cross, serving Central and Western South Dakota, was called to assist the family with immediate needs. The Rapid City Fire Department was also assisted by the Rapid City Police Department, Montana Dakota Utilities, and Black Hills Energy.

There were no reported injuries to civilians or Fire Service personnel. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Rapid City Fire Department Fire and Life Safety division.

The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that a well planned and practiced escape plan can save lives in the event of a fire in your home. That plan should include working smoke detectors on every level of your home. For more info on escape planning, visit

No updates regarding this incident are anticipated at this time. Please contact Rapid City Fire Department Public Information Officer Jim Bussell at (605)-394-4180 for questions related to this release.