Friday, December 29, 2017

RCFD Eyes More Efficient, Versatile Vehicles

RCFD explains the benefits of new vehicle purchase

Rapid City, S.D. - As local media outlets have reported, the Legal and Finance Committee of the Rapid City Council recommended for approval the purchase of three new vehicles for the department. The potential purchase has generated curiosity for some in the community while a few have expressed concern regarding the “need” for three new vehicles. The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take the opportunity to provide further explanation on the vehicles slated for replacement, the capabilities of the new vehicles, and what these purchases will mean for the community and customers of the Rapid City Fire Department.

In October of 2016, the Rapid City Fire Department began utilizing what is known as the "Squad Concept". This concept was conducted on a trial basis at Station 1 in Downtown Rapid City. Instead of running a large fire apparatus on medical calls, minor traffic crashes and service calls not requiring a large apparatus, a light utility vehicle was utilized. Instead of purchasing a new vehicle for a concept that may not work for our organization, the department retrofitted the staff vehicle previously utilized by Fire Operations Chief Nick Carlson. The vehicle, a 2012 Ford F250 pickup, was retrofitted with an external light bar, slide out unit for breathing equipment, personal protective equipment and tools, and placed into service as Squad 1. 

Since implementation, the Squad Concept has proven to be effective in minimizing wear and tear on large apparatus. Only time will tell, but the hope is that this reduced wear and tear will then extend the service life of the larger apparatus. 

The Rapid City Fire Department has asked to purchase three pick-up based vehicles. They will be multi-function vehicles and will replace three vehicles currently in the fleet. Once such vehicle slated for replacement is located at Fire Station 6 which is home to the Rapid City/Pennington County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team, or Hazmat Team. Hazmat 6, affectionately known among many as "Big Blue", is a 1991 Central States Fire Apparatus Hazmat truck on a Freightliner chassis. In addition to a large inventory of hazardous materials response equipment, the truck has an Onan generator for powering equipment and lights as well as computer equipment located in the rear of the truck.

Above: The current Hazmat 6 which is housed at Station 6.

Initially designed to haul the majority of the Hazmat Team's recognition, identification and mitigation equipment, the truck is very large. Hazmat 6 is 13-feet high, 40-feet long and weighs in at right around 13 tons. Since 1989 when the Hazmat team came into existence, the mission of the team has changed a great deal. With that change in mission, team response has also evolved. The current response model for hazmat is a modular response model which negates the need for a single, larger vehicle. The new response model takes advantage of smaller, more efficient vehicles and the use of utility trailers. 

Traditionally, Hazmat 6 was also used as a command center. The rear of the vehicle was set-up with radios, computers, and work space for incident command personnel. This function is no longer necessary because of WiFi, tablets and laptop computers as well as the availability of the Regional Command Center. 

The new hazmat unit will be a much smaller, efficient vehicle. In addition, the new unit will have a 150 gallon water tank and a high-pressure, low volume pump. The addition of water and a pump adds a measure of versatility to the vehicle. In addition to being smaller, lighter and more efficient, the new vehicle will have the ability to respond to medical emergencies or minor traffic crashes which will, in all likelihood, extend the service life of the large fire apparatus housed at Station 6 known as Engine 6. 

Above: The apparatus currently known as Engine 6. Through data collection, the RCFD feels that the service life of this vehicle will be extended through the purchase of a new hazmat unit.

Above: Conceptual drawings of the proposed new Hazmat 6. The new vehicle will be smaller, more efficient, and more versatile than the existing hazmat unit. 

Another of the vehicles slated for replacement is Fire Rescue 3 which is currently housed at Fire Station 3 on Federal Avenue on the west side of Rapid City. Station 3 is home of the light-rescue component of the departments Technical Rescue Team (TRT). Station 3 members specialize in response to rescue situations involving medium and high angle rope rescue, confined space rescue and water rescue. Station 3 is also one of two stations in the department equipped with hydraulic vehicle extrication equipment for use on traffic crashes in which victims are trapped. These tools are commonly referred to as "the Jaws of Life".  The current vehicle known as Fire Rescue 3 is an Amtech Rescue Truck body on a 2001 Ford F350 chassis and shows just under 93,000 miles as of the date of this article. The current chassis was not designed to hold the type of weight that is currently required to meet the mission of the Station 3 crews. 
Above: Fire Rescue 3 which currently operates out of Fire Station 3 on Federal Ave.

Above: One of the compartments on Fire Rescue 3 that contains rope rescue equipment. 

Above: The rear tool tray on Fire Rescue 3 that holds hydraulic extrication equipment.

The new rescue vehicle will be built on a Ford F550 chassis and, like the new Hazmat 6, will have a high pressure, low volume fire pump and a 150 gallon tank. The new Fire Rescue 3 will be longer than the new Hazmat 6 simply because of the equipment needs of the rescue vehicle. The addition of a water tank and fire pump provides an added measure of safety as well as an additional capability not possessed by the current rescue vehicle. 
Above: Conceptual drawings for the proposed new Fire Rescue 3 to be housed at Fire Station 3. The vehicle will carry a variety of technical rope rescue equipment, water rescue equipment as well as hydraulic extrication equipment.

As is the case with Station 6, having a pickup based vehicle in the station will extend the service life on another apparatus housed at Station 3. Currently, Station 3 is home of one of two aerial apparatus operated by the Rapid City Fire Department. Truck 3 is a 2007 Pierce Arrow with a 100 foot aerial ladder on top. Based on the current response model, Fire Rescue 3 responds to all medical emergencies and traffic crashes in the Station 3 district, or, outside of district when needed. By using Fire Rescue 3 on the calls not requiring a large fire apparatus, the service life of the large apparatus is extended. 
Above: Truck 3 on a scene earlier this year. Through utilization of a pickup based vehicle for medical calls and calls for service not requiring the use of a large fire apparatus, the service life of this vehicle will be extended.

The final vehicle slated for replacement is the vehicle currently being used as Squad 1. The vehicle currently in use as Squad 1 was never initially designed to serve as an everyday response vehicle. Although retrofitted as outlined above, there is very little room for gear storage. Medical gear is simply placed in the back seat and retrieving tools and equipment is in-efficient, at-best. 

Above: The current Squad 1 which operates from the Downtown Rapid City fire station. The 2012 Ford F250 pickup was a staff vehicle that was retrofitted for everyday emergency response.

Above: Squad 1 was retrofitted with a slide-out unit used to hold personal protective gear and equipment. While effective, the unit does not always allow for efficient deployment of tools and equipment.

Above: Squad 1 was retrofitted with a slide-out unit used to hold personal protective gear and equipment. While effective, the unit does not always allow for efficient deployment of tools and equipment.

The new Squad 1 will be very similar to the new Hazmat 6 unit. The new Squad 1 will be built on a Ford F550 chassis, will have roll-up compartment doors as well as a 150 gallon water tank with a low volume, high pressure pump. The mission of Squad 1 dictates response to virtually all structure fires within the city. The design of the new truck will allow the crew to carry more firefighting tools and equipment. While the low volume, high pressure pump is not designed for interior firefighting operations, should Squad 1 arrive on a fire (structure, vehicle, grass, etc.) first, the pump and tank combination will allow the crew to engage in suppression activities until the arrival of a large fire apparatus.

It is our hope that through publication of this document, the reader can see that the Rapid City Fire Department has the absolute best interest of our customers in mind with the purchase of three new vehicles. We believe that this article shows attention to fiscal responsibility through purchasing versatile, efficient vehicles that will help to extend the life of other vehicles in the RCFD fleet. Our mission is simple: Prepare, Prevent, Protect. We feel that the acquisition of these three vehicles will help us to better meet that mission and we hope that you do too.

For questions or comment related to this article, please contact Public Information Officer Jim Bussell, at (605)-394-4180. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Clothing Drive Benefits Dress for Success Black Hills

Drive was organized, run by Rapid City firefighter

Rapid City, S.D. - From an outsiders perspective, it must have been an odd sight to see. Rapid City Firefighters and local business women unloading a trailer that was packed to the gills with a variety of women's business attire and accessories. It's not something most would expect to see. On Tuesday evening, however, it's exactly what was taking place on the campus of Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City.

About three months ago, Rapid City Firefighter/Medic Jamil Abourezk set out to begin a clothing drive to benefit a local organization. After some homework and research- which included a call to the 211 Helpline Center- Jamil initiated a clothing drive to collect donations to help the program known as Dress for Success Black Hills.

Dress for Success Black Hills was founded in October of 2017. According to their Facebook page, the program "helps to empower the women in our community find a better world of work" by providing clients with professional work attire, interview and resume guidance, and strategies for success. The non-profit organization Dress for Success Worldwide started operations in 1997 and, since that time, has expanded to more than 150 cities and 28 countries across the globe. According to the Dress for Success website, South Dakota has two affiliates; one in Rapid City and one in Sioux Falls. 

Firefighter Abourezk began accepting donations of new or gently used professional attire from friends, family members, and spouses and significant others of colleagues. Over a period of several weeks, the collection of donations grew. On Thursday, Firefighter Abourezk and members of the Rapid City Fire Department gathered up the items and loaded them into a 5-foot by 8-foot cargo trailer for delivery. "I got a lot of help from some really cool friends", Abourezk said. "It got kind of big. It started to take over my house", he said. 

Firefighter Abourezk said that one of the main reasons he chose to help Dress for Success Black Hills is that none of the items he donated will be re-sold. Program participants will have the opportunity to shop with a staff member to outfit them with attire best suited for their interview in addition to a weeks worth of separates once the individual secures employment. He noted that the program participants will not only receive clothing items, but will also become part of a network to help them develop skills in order to pursue gainful employment. "It's one thing to give them clothes but it's another thing to give them skills to hopefully break the cycle of poverty", he said.
To learn more about Dress for Success Black Hills, find them on Facebook by clicking here. 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: Racks and boxes of clothing fill a room in Jamil Abourezk's home. the clothing items were collected to help Dress for Success- Black Hills. 

Above: Racks and boxes of clothing fill a room in Jamil Abourezk's home. the clothing items were collected to help Dress for Success- Black Hills. 

Above: Meticulously sorted clothing items filled an entire room in Jamil Abourezk's home. Pictured, Abourezk loads the clothing items into a trailer for delivery to Dress for Success- Black Hills.

Above: Meticulously sorted clothing items filled an entire room in Jamil Abourezk's home.

Above: This 5-foot by 8-foot enclosed utility trailer was packed from front to back and top to bottom with clothing donations for the Dress for Success program.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

**For Immediate Release**
Re: Spate of Fires Prompt Safety Reminder
From: Lt. Jim Bussell- Rapid City Fire Department
Office: (605)-394-4180
Date: 12/13/2017 10:00 am

High Winds, Hot Materials Combine to Pose Fire Risk

Rapid City, S.D. – According to the National Weather Service, on seven of the last ten days, Rapid City has seen wind gusts of 50 mph or higher. During that same span, Rapid City Firefighters have responded to 16 different fires. In a number of cases, the fires were caused by hot items that were not completely extinguished and were kicked up by the wind.

-On December 4, RCFD crews responded to a report of a structure fire. On arrival, crews found a plastic bucket used for discarding smoking materials that had ignited and melted the siding. The fire was out on arrival and damage to the structure was limited to the aforementioned siding.

-On December 10, RCFD crews responded to a report of a structure fire. On arrival, crews found a large pieces of furniture on fire in the yard of the home. Occupants had a small camp fire in the yard earlier in the evening. The occupants believed that they had completely extinguished the fire and went to bed. The occupants woke to the smell of smoke and found the furniture burning in the yard. Hot materials from the seemingly extinguished camp fire are believed to have blown into the furniture which then ignited them.

-On December 11, RCFD crews responded to a report of a structure fire. A plastic pot used for discarded smoking materials had ignited which then extended to siding on the residence. The fire was quickly extinguished but did result in damage to both the interior and exterior of the structure.

-Also on December 11, RCFD crews responded to a report of an exterior deck on fire at an apartment building. When crews arrived, the fire had been extinguished by maintenance workers with a fire extinguisher. A box of refuse containing smoking materials ignited on the deck which then extended to the deck materials. There was moderate damage to the deck.

The examples above highlight how, with the persistent windy conditions, items that are not completely extinguished can result in an unintended fire. As we have seen in the last 48 hours, fire combined with dry conditions and wind can prove to be catastrophic. Earlier this year, the Rapid City Fire Department issued a reminder about the potential for fire as it relates to potted plants. Because of the current conditions, potted plant fires remain a concern.

Most of the soil found in potted plants, both in homes and outside of homes, is a soil compound that contains little mineral soil and mostly organic compounds such as peat moss.  These organic compounds not only contain dead plant materials that produce heat from decomposition, but will also support smoldering combustion.  Many times, plant holders filled with potting soil will receive enough water to support furthering heat of decomposition, which is exacerbated if the plant is in direct sunlight.  Many times individuals will use outdoor potted plants as a receptacle for discarded smoking materials as they believe the soil is primarily dirt.  Due to the ability of potting soil to support smoldering combustion, when conditions are right (hot temps, wind, dry conditions, etc.), the smoldering conditions can turn into a free burning fire.  The problem quickly worsens when the pot is made of plastic or wood products, and spreads to other surrounding materials.

The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take the opportunity to remind homeowners to check potted plants for moisture content, especially since our growing season is over for the year.  Many homeowners have stopped watering these plants. Dispose of the dead root material, and store them in a cool, dry place for next season.  Additionally, please properly dispose of any smoking materials in approved containers only, and know that potting soil is not a good option for this.  Lastly, kindly consider purchasing outdoor pots made of fire resistant materials.

For questions or comment related to this release, please contact RCFD Public Information Officer Jim Bussell at the information provided above.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

RCFD Responds to Afternoon Grass Fire

Fire is the second in the area in less than 24 hours.

Rapid City, S.D. - Rapid City Firefighters from Stations 1, 4 and 7 responded to the area east of 21 E. Knollwood Drive just after 2:30 pm this afternoon for a report of a grass fire. Before arriving, a large, dark plume of smoke was clearly visible from most areas of Rapid City. The large column prompted multiple calls to Pennington County 9-1-1.  
When crews arrived they found an area that was approximately one acre in size that was actively burning. The area is comprised of grass, trees and a marshy area with a large amount of broadleaf cattails growing in it. When burned, broadleaf cattail marshes tend to produce thick, dark smoke and burn hot despite being in somewhat of a wetlands area. This was certainly the case this afternoon.
Fire crews took advantage of favorable weather conditions, adequate resources on scene, and fuel breaks to conduct a controlled burn out operation. The burn out operation reduces hazardous fuels in the area and may help reduce future problems later on. The burn out operation also helped to improve the fire area aesthetically by “squaring up” the burn area. The area should see a green-up effect in the spring as a result of the burn out operation.
Once burn out operations ceased and the fire was contained and mopped up, the burn area covered approximately three acres. As of 4:00 pm, the fire was 100% contained.
The fire is believed to have been human caused and will remain under investigation. The fire today occurred in the same area as another fire at around 7:00 pm last night. The fire last night is also believed to have been human caused.
Unseasonably warm and dry conditions are expected to persist into the foreseeable future. The Rapid City Fire Department will take this opportunity to remind the public to be cautious with sources of ignition. As hunters and outdoor enthusiasts take to the field, be aware of where vehicles with hot exhaust are parked. Avoid parking in tall, dry grass. Be mindful when smoking materials are discarded.
No further updates related to this incident are anticipated at this time. 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.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

**For Immediate Release**
Re: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
From: Rapid City Fire Department Public Information Office
Date: 11/21/2017

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

RCFD makes "nice list", asked to deliver Santa to Main St. Square

Rapid City, S.D. - Late this morning, the RCFD Public Information Officer received a call from the North Pole regarding the arrival of Santa Claus in Rapid City this coming Saturday, November 25.

Mr. Alabaster Snowball, Press Secretary for Mr. Claus, contacted the RCFD to inquire about the availability of a RCFD fire apparatus for Santa's delivery to Main Street Square at 2 pm on Saturday.

As has been the case for a number of years, Santa has chosen the RCFD to deliver him to Main Street Square for a number of reasons. Mr. Snowball remarked; "The RCFD has a reputation of reliability". "Reliability coupled with the fact that their fire engines are shiny and red, much like Santa's sleigh, make them an obvious choice", continued Mr. Snowball.

The Rapid City Fire Department will be picking Santa up at an undisclosed location and delivering him safely and on time to Main Street Square promptly at 2 pm on Saturday. We hope you can be there to help ring in the Holiday Season!

For questions or comment related to this press release, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer for the RCFD or Mr. Alabaster Snowball, Press Secretary for Santa Claus.


Monday, November 13, 2017

RCFD to Host EMT Course

Course will provide entry level EMS education to the public.

Rapid City, S.D. - The Rapid City Fire Department is hosting an EMT Course that is open to the public. The purpose of this class is to provide entry level EMS education to the public.

When: Class begins January 8, 2018 and runs through April 17, 2018. Classes will be held on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00-10:00 pm.
Where: Classes will be held at 1205 N. Maple Ave (Old Fire Station 7).
Cost: $850. This includes the cost of the book. All fees are due lo later than January 8 and must be paid in full before class begins.

Class size is limited to 10 students. For more information, please contact Capt. Chris Jolley at (605)-394-4180, Monday through Friday between 8 am and 4 pm.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Eight Begin Careers as Rapid City Firefighters

The new recruits will be assigned to Medic Units until completion of a 2018 Fire Academy.

Pictured, top row, L to R: Cory Eberle, Ryan Nelson, Brandon Lliteras, Karl Bodensteiner
Pictured, bottom row, L to R: Steven Gilbert, Randy Albright, James Swango, David Rohlf

Rapid City, S.D. - Today, eight individuals will begin their careers as Rapid City Firefighters. The eight employees have completed initial training to be able to work on RCFD ambulances. The eight will be assigned strictly to Medic Units until completion of a longer, more formal academy- which will include fire and rescue training- sometime in 2018.

Randy Albright- Randy is originally from Minnesota. Recruit Albright has eight seasons of experience as a wildland firefighter with the United States Forest Service, with seven of those seasons spent in the Black Hills. Randy has prior Emergency Medical Services (EMS) experience as a member of the Piedmont Ambulance Service.

Karl Bodensteiner- Karl is a life-long resident of Rapid City. Recruit Bodensteiner is certified as an Advanced EMT and has worked for the Rosebud Ambulance Service for six years. Karl is currently enrolled in Paramedic school at Western Dakota Technical Institute. Karl and his wife have eight children and live on a small hobby farm near Rapid City.

Cory Eberle- Recruit Eberle was born and raised in Sioux Falls and obtained a bachelors degree in Exercise Science from the University of Sioux Falls. He is recently married and enjoys mountain biking and running during his free time.

Steven Gilbert- Recruit Gilbert is a 2010 graduate of Rapid City Stevens High School and a graduate of Minnesota State University with a degree in Biology. Steven has prior experience in emergency medicine as a Technician in the Emergency Department in a Mankato, MN area hospital. In his spare time, Steven enjoys rock climbing and outdoors activities.

Brandon Lliteras- Brandon was born and raised in Chadron, Nebraska and has been a member of the Chadron Volunteer Fire Department since 2004. Recruit Lliteras obtained a degree in Fire Science from Casper College in 2006 and his Paramedic certification in 2012. Since 2012, Brandon has been a Paramedic with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Ambulance Service.

Ryan Nelson- Recruit Nelson is a 2012 graduate of Rapid City Stevens High School. Ryan has previous experience in Emergency Services as both an EMT with the Keystone Ambulance Service and as a Firefighter with the Black Hawk Fire Department. Ryan enjoys outdoors activities in his spare time. He and his wife are expecting their first child in November.

David Rohlf- David was raised in Belle Fourche, S.D. and is a 2014 graduate of Belle Fourche High School. Recruit Rohlf has been active in Emergency Services since 2014 as a member of the Belle Fourche Fire Department and as a member of the Rapid Valley Fire Department since 2015. In 2017, David graduated from Western Dakota Tech with a degree in Paramedicine. 

James Swango- Recruit Swango was born and raised in Livingston, Montana and moved to Rapid City in 1999. Because of his small town upbringing, he has a love for wide-open spaces and enjoys fly-fishing and backpacking with his children and wife. Since 2015, James has been a member of the Piedmont Ambulance Service and a member of the Piedmont Fire Department since 2016.

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.


Fire Damages Residence on Southwest Side

Firefighters quickly knock down kitchen fire

Rapid City, S.D- On Saturday evening, Rapid City Firefighters responded to a kitchen fire that temporarily displaced a family and caused smoke damage to a home. At 9:44 pm on October 21, Rapid City Firefighters were dispatched to a report of a kitchen fire at 2609 Minnetonka Drive on the southwest side of the city. When crews arrived, smoke was coming from the front door of the home.

When firefighters entered the structure, they found a fire in the kitchen of the residence. They were able to quickly put out the fire. A thorough check of the home found that no fire had extended into the walls or ceiling of the home. Moderate smoke damage was sustained throughout the home.

The occupants of the home were able to quickly evacuate and call 9-1-1. None of the occupants at home during the fire were injured. The American Red Cross, serving Central and Western South Dakota, arrived on scene to assist the occupants of the home with immediate needs.

The cause of the fire was determined to have been accidental and remains under investigation. 

The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to remind citizens that fires grow quickly. Because of modern furnishings and modern construction, the amount of time that you have to escape a burning home is less than ever before. Know two ways out of every room in your home. In addition to having two ways out, make sure smoke alarms are installed outside of each sleeping area, test your smoke alarms monthly, and practice your home fire escape plan. Your escape plan should include a meeting place in front of the home. For more information on smoke alarms and exit planning, please contact the Rapid City Fire Departments Fire and Life Safety Division at (605)-394-5233. 

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


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Afternoon Fire Heavily Damages Southwest Rapid City Home

Rapid City, S.D. - Just before 4:20 pm, multiple companies from the Rapid City Fire Department as well as the Whispering Pines Fire Department were dispatched to a report of a structure fire at 6835 Sahalee Dr. At the time of dispatch, Pennington County 9-1-1 had received multiple calls reporting the fire. In addition to the numerous 9-1-1 calls, Rapid City Fire Headquarters also received a flurry of calls reporting the fire. A very large, dark column of smoke was clearly visible from all areas of Rapid City.

When crews from Fire Station 6 arrived on scene, they reported a single family dwelling that was heavily involved in fire. The fire was threatening an adjacent structure. Crews were able to quickly begin applying water to the fire  in the building of origin and protecting the adjacent structure simultaneously. Fire Engine 5 arrived shortly after Engine 6 and was able to obtain a water supply from a nearby hydrant.

The main fire was knocked down by 5 pm. Crews were able to locate and extinguish many hot spots by about 7:30 pm. A Rapid City Fire Department crew will remain on scene well into the night to ensure no additional hot spots flare up. An adjacent structure sustained minor damage as a result of radiant heat from the building of origin.

No one was home at the time of the fire and there were no injuries to civilians. A number of family pets did not survive the fire and a number of others are unaccounted for at the time of this release. One firefighter was treated for heat related illness.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Rapid City Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Division. The American Red Cross serving Central and Western South Dakota was on scene to provide assistance to the displaced occupants.

The RCFD would like to thank Pennington County Fire, the Whispering Pines Fire Department, the North Haines Fire Department, Montana Dakota Utilities, Black Hills Energy, and the Rapid City Police Department and Pennington County 9-1-1 Communications for their prompt, professional assistance with today's fire.

The RCFD would like to take the opportunity to remind the public that unnecessary traffic in the area of an emergency scene can create difficulty for responders. While we understand that many times there is a good deal of public interest in incidents such as a building fire, that interest can hinder emergency response. In the event of such an emergency, please choose an alternate route if possible or avoid the area until the response is completed to allow responders to easily navigate the area around the scene.

An update regarding this incident is not anticipated at this time. Please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer with the Rapid City Fire Department, at (605)-394-4180 for questions or comment related to this release.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Update on Crash Involving RCFD Ambulance

Drivers reminded to yield to emergency vehicles

Rapid City, S.D. – The crash that occurred yesterday at 5th and Omaha Streets involving a Rapid City Fire Department ambulance was investigated by the Rapid City Police Department. According to the RCPD:

The ambulance was westbound on Omaha Street with its emergency lights and sirens activated. As the ambulance approached the intersection with 5th street, it encountered several vehicles stopped at the intersection in the through lanes of traffic. In order to make its way through the intersection, it stopped in the left-hand turn lanes, made sure traffic was clear of the intersection, and proceeded with a right turn to go north on 5th street. As it did so, a passenger vehicle in one of the westbound through lanes on Omaha Street attempted to continue straight through the intersection. The passenger vehicle struck the passenger side of the ambulance. The driver of this vehicle was cited for Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle.

Both Rapid City Fire Department Paramedics involved in the crash were transported to Rapid City Regional Hospital. They were evaluated and released.

As a reminder, the Rapid City Fire Department will take this opportunity to remind the public to come to a complete stop when encountering emergency vehicles with their lights and siren activated. Where reasonably possible, pull to the right and stop when you see flashing emergency lights or hear a siren. Come to a complete stop and wait until the emergency vehicle has passed. 

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


Monday, August 28, 2017

RCFD Ambulance Involved in Crash

Rapid City, S.D. – Just before 11 am this morning a Rapid City Fire Department ambulance was responding to a medical emergency in north Rapid City when it was involved in a crash. The ambulance and crew, whose call sign is Medic 1, was traveling west on Omaha Street toward 5th St. The ambulance and crew were in the inside westbound lane and had come to a stop in preparation to make a right hand turn to go north on 5th St. A vehicle traveling west collided with the ambulance in the intersection. The ambulance was impacted in the front passenger door. The impact temporarily trapped the Paramedic in the passenger seat.

The crew, despite the collision, remained calm and immediately requested that an ambulance respond to the initial 9-1-1 call for service. Units responding to the crash scene were quickly able to access both medics and begin treatment as well as attend to the occupant of the other vehicle. Three individuals were transported to a local hospital including both crew members of Medic 1. All three individuals sustained non-life threatening injuries.

The Rapid City Police Department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash. The specific details are not available at this time. A reserve ambulance from the RCFD fleet has already been brought in and is staffed with an Advanced Life Support Crew.

The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to remind the public to come to a complete stop when encountering emergency vehicles with their lights and siren activated. Where reasonably possible, pull to the right and stop when you see flashing emergency lights or hear a siren. Come to a complete stop and wait until the emergency vehicle has passed.

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.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Ode to a Fire Engine, or Something Like That

by Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer

"I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire truck."
-Kurt Vonnegut

In the fire service retirements are a big deal. They should be. A fire service retirement is generally significant but never more so than when a member of the department retires after a long and distinguished career. Because of the nature of the job, the arduous physical demands placed on the member, and the exposure to a litany of hazards, a long career is an achievement to be celebrated. These celebrated retirements are not exclusive to firefighters but to fire apparatus as well. In fact, there are occasions in which the retirement of an apparatus may be far more poignant and emotional than that of a firefighter. That is certainly how I feel about the retirement of Engine 3.

It is my humble opinion that Vonnegut's observation regarding the emotions evoked when one sees a fire engine is accurate. I think this is especially the case for the firefighter. I believe that there are very few, if any, things in this world that stimulate the wide range of feelings and emotions that I experience when I see a fire apparatus rolling down the street. After sixteen years in the fire service and thirteen years with the Rapid City Fire Department, I still swell with pride when I see one of our engines or trucks with her lights flashing and siren wailing. "My" truck and "my" firefighters, doing something I've seen and participated in thousands of times, still, and to this day, will stop me in my tracks. For anyone who has never experienced the fire service from our side, what I just attempted to convey may not make sense.

So, it is for the reasons I pointed out a moment ago, that the retirement of a fire apparatus is a big deal. For many firefighters, as it was the case for me, the fire service is by-and-large responsible for maturation and growth sufficient to truly deliver one into adulthood. The fire engine is central to that delivery. The fire engine carries us to many of the experiences that help to cultivate growth and maturation. When those stories are recounted later on, they almost invariably begin with, "I was on Engine (insert number here)". While the people and human relationships and interactions are so very important to the fire service, it's the fire engine that is the focal point.
I was hired by the Rapid City Fire Department in 2004. My first station and shift assignment was Station 3 on C Shift. 
Above: Station 3, C Shift crew, December 2004
Pictured, L to R: Firefighter/Paramedic Casey Warren (Ret.), Firefighter/Medic Bill Reishus (Ret.), Lt. Joe Gilles (currently the Captain at Fire Station 8), Firefighter/Medic Mark Raderschadt (currently the C Shift Lieutenant at Station 1), and myself.

Our fire engine at Station 3 was the oldest one in the fleet. It reminded me of a line from the AC/DC song Whole Lotta Rosie; "She ain't exactly pretty. Ain't exactly small". Engine 3 was a 1987 Pierce Arrow and, in 2004, was already 17 years old. It was easily identifiable because of its color, bright yellow. Back in the 1980's, many fire departments went to yellow as a primary color for fire engines because they felt it added a measure of visibility. The Rapid City Fire Department also adopted this idea and went to yellow fire engines until around 1993 when our organization again went back to purchasing traditional red fire engines. When I hit the floor in 2004, Engine 3 and a reserve engine at Station 1 were the last remaining yellow engines in the RCFD fleet.

I had a love/hate relationship with our engine. I was profoundly grateful for the chance to ride in a fire engine that said "Rapid City" on the side. It had an open cab back and only a seat-belt and safety bar separated the rear-facing firefighter from the pavement. During the summer I loved the open cab. During the winter I hated it. There wasn't a lot of storage room in Engine 3. Medical gear was stored in an outside compartment. If you were in the back seat, there was no room for turnout gear when you weren't wearing them. It was loud and fairly uncomfortable. But, man, that engine could pump water. 

A huge part of a driver/operators job is to operate the pump. Learning to operate the pump often proves to be a difficult topic for many firefighters. The ability to proficiently pump water on a fire is truly one that could mean the difference between saving a building or losing a building. That skill is also one that could be the difference between life and death. One thing was always for certain: If water wasn't coming out of Engine 3, it had to be operator error. There was no two-ways about it. The water pump on Engine 3 was about as reliable as you would ever find on a fire engine. It never failed a pump test in 30 years of service. Any operator who learned how to proficiently pump water from that particular engine would certainly be able to proficiently pump water out of any other apparatus that we had.

Engine 3 could also go just about anywhere we needed it to go. It had good clearance, was dependable in the snow and ice, and maneuvered around the hills and streets of West Rapid City without issues. No one that rode in it ever had to wonder if they could get where they needed to go or if the engine could perform once we got there. It wasn't flashy or shiny. It was effective and dependable and it served the citizens of Rapid City well. 

Since 1987, that yellow Pierce Arrow known as Engine 3 has been serving the citizens of the Rapid City area which makes it our second longest tenured "member". In early 2006, it was replaced with a brand new Quint. With the arrival of Quint 3 and its new state-of-the-art technology, Engine 3 was pushed into reserve status. When I think back to the innumerable incidents that it's been part of, several things strike me. The importance of this vehicle to the organization, the firefighters that rode on it, and the community really hit home. Incidents that may not necessarily stand out to our firefighters are sentinel moments in the lives of the people whose emergencies it responded to. Since 1987, water from the pump of Engine 3 was sprayed on many of the biggest fires our city has seen. Engine 3 was on scene at the Sweeney and Federal Beef fires and provided protection for countless structures in and around Rapid City for a number of significant wildland fires just to name a very few. This particular engine was in service during the 1988 Westberry Trails Fire. Time has forgotten more fires that Engine 3 responded to than most of our newest members will ever see.

Earlier this month, the Rapid City Fire Department welcomed a new engine to the fleet which will be housed and run out of Station 7. The new engine has increased storage, a larger motor, and the capability to carry gear to respond to a variety of technical rescue situations. The engine previously housed at Station 7 will move to Station 5 and take the place of a 2001 Pierce that is nearing the end of its service life. With the 2001 engine moving into a reserve role, Old Engine 3 will be forced into retirement. What will become of it, no one is sure at this point. 
Above: The new Engine 7 as during a ceremony to put it in-service. The new Rescue/Pumper will be housed at Station 7 in North Rapid.

To firefighters, the retirement of a fire engine is not generally something that is viewed as simply replacing one vehicle with another. For a select few of us a fire engine becomes more about who we are as people than what we do as firefighters. There is a reason that some cities devote a good deal of space and funding to museums built to memorialize these apparatus. Not everyone shares our sentiments. To some people in the community replacing a fire engine is a necessary evil. It represents an expenditure that they don't necessarily understand. Although Engine 3 has much sentimental value to many of us, the fact remains that it simply became time to replace it.

Parallels can continue to be drawn between firefighters and the fire engines that they ride on. After extended use, abuse and wear and tear, both can become obsolete. In some cases, the career of either may outlast their usefulness. In only a couple short decades, the mission of both the fire service as a whole and the Rapid City Fire Department has changed greatly. Versatility and the ability to respond to any emergency, any place and at any time are key. When Engine 3 was designed and built, firefighters only responded to fires. Response to medical emergencies, hazardous materials events and technical rescues did not come until later on and, certainly for our organization, not in earnest until 1994. Response to these incidents requires more equipment, more versatility and more capabilities than Engine 3 was designed for.

When a member, be they a firefighter or a fire apparatus, becomes unable to function in a versatile role, it becomes time to reevaluate the role the member will play in the organization. Inevitably, the time will come for every firefighter and every fire apparatus to retire and be replaced with a newer, more capable model. In my opinion, the thing that is most impressive is that it took 3 three decades to finally find a replacement suitable for Engine 3. 

For questions related to this post, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell at (605)-394-4180.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

RCFD Offers Safety Reminder For Bicyclists, Drivers

Three bicycle vs car crashes in 24 hours prompts reminder

Rapid City, S.D. - Between the hours of 2:00 pm Monday and 7:00 am Tuesday, the Rapid City Police and Rapid City Fire Departments have responded to three bicycle vs vehicle crashes that have resulted in injury. Fortunately, none of the injuries sustained by bicyclists have been serious.

The Rapid City Fire Department would like to take the opportunity to remind motorists and bicyclists that safety is a two way street. Both bicyclists and motorists must remain attentive and alert.

Some safety tips for bicyclists include:

-Bicyclists should be prepared before they hit the road. Wear clothing and equipment to make themselves more visible to others. 

-Bicyclists should always wear a bike helmet. 

-Ride defensively, focused and alert. Anticipate what others may do before they do it. Ride with the flow, in the same direction as traffic. Always assume the other person doesn't see you.

-Bicyclists are required by state law to stop before entering the road. Accidents often happen when cyclists enter the street without stopping. Teach your children to always stop and look for cars before entering the street.

Some safety tips for motorists include:

-Yield to bicyclists the same as you would to other motorists and do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist.

-In parking lots, at stop signs, when backing up, or when parking, search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicycles.

-Give cyclists room. Do not pass too closely. Pass bicyclists as you would and other vehicle- when it's safe to move over into an adjacent lane.

As school for the 2017-2018 school year gets underway, now is a good time to review these simple steps to safely share the road. For more information on bicyclist and motorist safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website by clicking here.

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


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Not Your Average Citizen Assist

Rapid City, S.D. - Just before 5 pm on Wednesday, Truck 1 from Fire Station 1 was dispatched to the City/School Administration Center (CSAC) building for a citizen assist. An individual with a disability that requires use of a wheelchair was conducting business at the CSAC building on the third floor when the elevator malfunctioned. The individual was not inside of the elevator at the time the malfunction occured. After speaking with the elevator repair technician, firefighters learned that the elevator repair would be a lengthy process. Additionally, because the chair weighed over 500 pounds and because of the configuration of the stairway, there were concerns about having firefighters carry the chair down the stairs and risk injury to the firefighters. The Truck 1 crew, led by Capt. Tom Bielmaier, devised a plan to assist the individual down stairs using a stair chair and to lower the individuals wheelchair to the ground utilizing a rope and pulley system and the aerial ladder on Truck 1.

Capt. Bielmaier enlisted the help of Battalion Chief Tim Daly , Squad 1 led by Firefighter/Medic Nick Phillipe, and Fire Rescue 3 led by Capt. Calen Maningas. With the individual safely on the first floor via the stair chair and Squad 1, the Truck 1 and Rescue 3 crews constructed a rope system utilizing ropes, pulleys, and the aerial ladder. Utilizing the ladder as a crane was not an option as the weight of the chair would damage the ladder. Instead, Rescue 3 crews assembled a system that uses mechanical advantage- identical to a system that they would use in a vertical rescue scenario- and safely lowered the chair to the parking lot.

This event highlights the ingenuity and skill possessed by Rapid City Firefighters. It's also a good reminder that we never know how or when the tools, training and knowledge that our organization possesses will be put to use. This event was a great examplegood inter-departmental communication and the positive working relationship between different City of Rapid City departments.

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

Above: Firefighter Brett Morton completes the harness assembly in order to safely secure the wheelchair for lowering.

Above: Firefighters on the ground use a system of ropes and pulleys to raise the 500-pound wheelchair from the roof.

Above: Firefighter/Paramedic Brett Morton guides the chair as mechanical advantage is used to raise it in the air.

Above: Firefighter Paramedic Brett Morton keeps watch as the chair is lowered to the ground. The 100-foot aerial ladder was used as a change of direction for the rope and pulley system used to lower the chair.

Above: The chair is safely lowered to the ground


Monday, August 14, 2017

Firefighters From Around South Dakota Hone Skills During Rally Week

South Dakota Task Force 1 trains in Rapid City all week.

Rapid City, S.D. - Motorcycle enthusiasts weren’t the only visitors to the Black Hills last week as members of South Dakota Task Force 1 (SDTF-1) spent Rally week in Rapid City to participate in a variety of training exercises. The week-long training kicked off on Monday, August 7 and wrapped up on Friday, August 11.

South Dakota Task Force 1 is comprised of firefighters from the Rapid City Fire Department (RCFD), Sioux Falls Fire Rescue (SFFR), Aberdeen Fire Rescue (AFR) and Watertown Fire Rescue (WFR) and is trained to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats. Team members are also trained in specialized rescue techniques including, land-based search, structural collapse, swift water, confined space, high-angle, and rope rescue. 

During the week, Task Force 1 members trained on scenarios that, if presented, could pose a high amount of risk to responders. These high risk, low frequency events require a great deal of technical knowledge and skill.

On Monday, Task Force 1 members participated in a vertical extrication training. The training scenario involved a vehicle that had fallen from an elevated position, such as a cliff, or overpass. A mannequin was placed inside of the vehicle to simulate a victim in need of extrication. In this scenario, crews were not able to access the vehicle from where it came to rest. This necessitated the assembly of a rope system to lower rescuers and extrication equipment. Rescuers were forced to perform the extrication while suspended from rope systems.

On Tuesday, Task Force 1 team members reviewed principles and practices of swiftwater rescue before entering Rapid Creek for scenarios involving a submerged vehicle as well as a trapped kayaker. Students with limited swiftwater rescue experience were able to take advantage of lower-than-normal stream flows in order to better hone their skills.

On Wednesday, new crews from Sioux Falls and Watertown made their way to Rapid City and switched out with members that participated in the training on Monday and Tuesday. Seven members of SDTF-1 assisted local crews with the recovery of a deceased individual at the Hippie Hole area near Keystone, SD on Wednesday morning.

The training continued Thursday and Friday. Crews participated in swiftwater rescue training on Thursday at a remote, undisclosed location on Rapid Creek below Pactola Reservior. On Friday, the new crews had the opportunity to participate in vertical extrication training.

For more on the South Dakota Task Force 1 training, click here to view a story by Tessa Thomas of KEVN Black Hills Fox news.

Above: RCFD Firefighter/Paramedic Steve Keller uses hydraulic spreaders to open a door as part of the extrication process during South Dakota Task Force 1 training on Monday August 7 in Rapid City.

Above: Adam Nusbaum of SFFR (left) and Mike Roemmich of AFR (right) support a simulated victim as part of South Dakota Task Force 1 training in Rapid City on August 7.

Above: Bryan Wientjes of WFR (left) and Darryn Deck of SFFR (right) use hydraulic spreaders to remove the roof of a vehicle during a South Dakota Task Force 1 training exercise in Rapid City on August 7.

Above: Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Hunter Harlan of RCFD (far right) provides instruction on the use of a device known as a Water Curtain during South Dakota Task Force 1 training near Rapid City on August 8. The Water Curtain helps provide a downstream containment option for individuals who may have fallen victim to a swiftwater event.

Above: Members of SFFR prepare to enter the water of Rapid Creek during South Dakota Task Force 1 training near Rapid City on August 8.

For questions related to this article, please contact the Rapid City Fire Department Public Information Officer at (605)-394-4180.