Fire Department
(605) 394-4180

Emergency: 911

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History of RCFD

Old Fire PoleIn the mid 1880's South Dakota was not yet a state, but the City of Rapid City was already a colorful and cultured showplace, poised to become the Denver of the Black Hills.  The hotels, churches, and architecturally savvy buildings dotting the skyline were proof that this was an up and coming frontier community.  And what thriving city would be complete without its own fire department. In March of 1886, 56 volunteers formed the Rapid City Hose Company #1.   With hose carts and a hook and ladder, the group was amply prepared to protect the town's 400 residents.

As Rapid City continued to flourish, so did its fire service, and in 1915 the City's first fire station was built.  This building, now a popular restaurant and brewery in Rapid City, remained in service until 1975.

In 1948 the Department changed from a volunteer organization to a full-paid department.

Trouble brewed in 1970 between the City and the firefighters.  Unable to strike under their union contract, all but five firefighters walked off the job.  Half of the men that left eventually returned to work, but the other half had to be replaced.  Those who stayed had little use for the IAFF for a long time after that.  It was not until 1999 that the IAFF again represented Rapid City firefighters.Old Ladder Truck

An even more serious event affected every member of the Department in 1972 when a flash flood inundated the City on the night of June 9th.  That night 238 people lost their lives, including three firefighters.

The post-flood period was a time of growth and renewal for the City and the Department, with a new headquarters station being built in 1975, as well as an increase to five substations.

A sixth substation was built in 2002 and opened in January 2003. The opening of this new Station located off Highway 16 added 12 additional firefighters to the Department.

A listing of significant events in the Departments history is listed below. The Rapid City Department of Fire and Emergency Service's history is firmly entwined with the history of our entire community.

1886-1887 First recognized Fire Chief was A.C. Tipple of the Rapid City Fire Department.
March 28, 1886 First organized fire protection with 56 members called: Rapid City Hose Company #1.
May 20, 1886 First fire equipment in Rapid City; two hose carts and one hook
and ladder.
June 4, 1886 First hook and ladder was organized with the Rapid City Hose Company #1 disbanding.
June 24, 1886 Gate City Hose Company was organized for business.
February 15, 1887 Tom Sweeney Hose Company was organized for business.
May 1887 Prior to this date the Methodist Church bell had been used to alarm a fire.
July 1887 Gate City Hose Company disbanded.
May 1887 A new bell was installed on a 25-foot tower at the site of the Duhamel Building. The bell was moved shortly thereafter to a 65-foot tower at the Gate City Hose Company meeting room (6th St. between St. Joseph St. and Kansas City St.) and was used until 1915 when it was moved to the top of the hose tower of the new Firehouse. At a later date, it was removed and kept at the Pioneer Museum for a period of time. In the early 1990’s, it was moved to it’s present location in front of the Main Station.
1915 First City Fire Station was built at 610 Main St. and was used until 1975.
1948 The Department switched from a volunteer department to a paid department of 14 members.
December 1951 First RCFD substation (Station 3) was converted from an old horse barn located at the Sioux Sanitarium and served the West side of Rapid City until 1974.
1960 Substation built (Station 4) at 242 E. Indiana and was used until 1994 after another was built to replace it.
1963 Substation built (Station 7) at 1205 N. Maple St. and remains in use today; serving the North Rapid area.
1974 Substation built (Station 8) at the Airport building to facilitate Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting.
1975 Two new stations were built: 102 Federal St. housing Engine 3 and Brush 3, replacing Station 3 at the Sioux Sanitarium, and the second at 10 Main St., which became the Main Fire Station.
1979 Substation built (Station 5) at 2902 Park Dr. and houses Fire Rescue 5, Engine 5, and Dive Rescue.
1994 Station 4 moved to 700 E. Fairmont Blvd. housing Engine 4, Brush 4, and the HazMat Team.
2002 Substation built (Station 6) at 1930 Promise Road, housing the HazMat Team while, Station 4 became the decontamination specialty station.
March 1, 2003 The Rapid City Department of Fire and Emergency Services assumed responsibility for the provision of Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service in the Rapid City and Pennington County Area.
2003 Station 3 at 102 Federal Ave was replaced by a new Station on the same location and was put into service late in 2003.
2010                         Station 7 at 1205 N. Maple is replaced by a new Station located at 2255 Tish Blvd.                                                         
2011 Station 8 located at the Rapid City Regional Airport is replaced and opens in its new location at 4440 Kitty Hawk Road at Rapid City Regional Airport. 

Old Aerial in action Old Freeds Fire Old Central High fire Old Station Photo

Department Information | Organizational Chart | Stations and Apparatus | Station Maps

Rapid City Fire Department
10 Main St, Rapid City, SD 57701
Non-Emergency Fire Dept: 605-394-4180
Fire Prevention: 605-394-5233