SD Wildland Fire Division getting needed funds to improve buildings

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Monday-Friday
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:34 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Support for South Dakota’s emergency services continues as Governor Kristi Noem signed House Bills 1023 and 1024 into law on March 16.

Those bills will allocate $2.5 million in funds to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety for the construction of a new maintenance shop in the Rapid City and Hot Springs Wildland Fire Suppression Division. The director of the South Dakota Wildland Fire Department of Public Safety said the funds come at a time when the current station is struggling with well-needed repairs.

“The shower add-on that we made... well, there is no floor drain in that shower. They lifted the wall a little bit so that the water can drain out and come out to the floor drain that’s under the truck,” said South Dakota Wildland Fire Department of Public Safety director Jay Wickham. “Our employees are up in one building, and part of their equipment is in another building while the other part of the equipment is in another building over there.”

The construction of a new building would not only help the Wildland Fire Division’s response time. It would also help keep employees safe in the building itself.

“So, this facility that we’re sitting in right now was built by our seasonal employees back in 1977 using supply dollars that we had in our budget,” explained Wickham. “We had to remove all of our storage stuff in the empty room above our meeting room and put them into conic storage boxes because we were at 185% load for our floor joist.”

While employee safety is the main goal, the division is also planning for buildings that are more energy and work efficient as well as more spacious.

They hope to have the buildings completed by 2024.