Putting out fires on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the first fire station has broken ground

One of the entrances to the reservation.
One of the entrances to the reservation.(Connor Matteson)
Published: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:39 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota Mines teamed with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and students blueprinted the plans for a fire station on the Pine Ridge Reservation a few months ago.

Since then, the project has broken ground and building has begun.

There has never been a fire department on the reservation, meaning calls must be made to surrounding area fire departments for any structure fires.

Officials say that this makes any kind of development complicated, because those who would fund projects are skeptical due to concerns with insurance and possible fires.

That’s because those fires likely wouldn’t be put out until serious damage is done, as it takes a long time for firefighters from nearby towns to respond.

The fire station project is something that has been in the works since the early 2010s, and South Dakota Mines students are pleased to have been a part of the process, according to Associate Professor, Marc Robinson, who says, “We went down to the reservation and visited with tribal leaders to get their perspective and understand their needs and the struggles they face in terms of trying to develop economic development. To see a bigger picture of what the students were doing was extremely valuable. So, it became more than just ‘we’re designing a building,’ to we’re helping a community through what we’re doing.”

A grant helped to push the project forward, and they’re looking for the fire station to be finished by the end of 2021.

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