When crew is on assignment, fire district remains protected by personnel, apparatus
SPEARFISH, SD – Since 2017, the City of Spearfish has hired a seasonal wildland crew to support the efforts of reducing the impacts of wildfire on communities around the U.S. and also create revenue for the Spearfish Fire Department, since crew and equipment costs are reimbursed by the agency with jurisdiction on the fire. While the crew is deployed, the City always maintains resources to serve and protect its response area within the Spearfish Fire District; the wildland fire program is designed to allow personnel and equipment from Spearfish to assist with fighting wildfires around the country as requested, in the same way resources from other parts of the country assist when wildfire threatens the Black Hills, such as the 2016 Crow Peak Fire.
“We consider each request, given the fire conditions in the area, available personnel, etc.,” Public Safety Director Pat Rotert said, explaining that the City has the ability at any time to recall the firefighters and apparatus if they were needed to assist with a large-scale event.
The continued success of the wildland program led to the creation of a full-time engine boss position to expand the program beyond seasonal status and augment other needs within the department. Heath Brown was hired in the position in May.
“The wildland program provides opportunities for our firefighters to gain experience fighting wildfires around the country, supplementing their training and connections with local, state, and federal agencies, and many seek this type of seasonal employment opportunity, so it has been a win-win for our department,” Rotert said.
In addition to the full-time engine boss and two seasonal wildland firefighters hired, department volunteers may serve on wildland assignments if they qualify for the certifications and are available.