Rural fire departments in Meade County explore new ideas for emergency help

Some fire departments are looking to the future.
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 5:21 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With the smoke from the recent Schroder Fire barely out of the air, fire departments in one county are exploring options for extra help.

In the event of a wildfire, various methods of containing the flames are performed including digging into the dirt and creating a control line that cuts off the fire from more flammable material.

At the start of an already active fire season, three firemen from rural fire districts went to Tuesday’s Meade County Commissioners meeting to explore the option of having highway workers help to dig fire lines, but only in emergency situations.

“We have plenty to do. Meade County is a very big county. We have a lot of miles of roads, we have plenty of work to do, but I think this would be a unique circumstance if there’s a fire, if there’s people’s lives or structures in danger then I think, you know, like the commissioners, that’s why we’re having this conversation because they have expressed an interest,” said Meade County Highway Superintendent Nick Broyles. “You know, if there’s a catastrophe, like a good neighbor, I like to think we can help out people as much as we can.”

This plan is in the early stages and Broyles next step is to put together a draft agreement to go through the state’s attorney office and the county’s human resources office to see if it gets any traction.

Jerome Harvey, the Pennington County fire administrator, says using the highway department is not likely in Pennington county.

“It is not as common to use the highway department equipment as much as it was in the past,” said Harvey. “The ranching community here in Pennington County is very experienced as far as either putting in emergency fire breaks or maintaining existing fire breaks. We have an excellent relationship with them. A lot of our ranchers either support or are members of our volunteer fire departments in those areas and they have the equipment necessary to put those fire breaks in either as a prevention method or during an actual wildland fire.”

The plan for Meade county’s Highway Department will be discussed in future meetings

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