Community Event and Appearances
The Rapid City Fire Department remains firmly committed to community relations and public education. However, due to higher call volumes and a high volume of requests from the community, the Rapid City Fire Department has set forth the following guidelines.
All requests must be submitted via the document Fire Department Appearance Request (44 KB) form.
1. All requests must be received no less than 14 days in advance.
2. While firefighters enjoy participating in community events, our first priority is providing quality, timely, and professional emergency services to those who live in, work in, and visit our community. We may not be able to accommodate all event requests due to training obligations, call volume and other scheduling conflicts.
3. If a fire crew attends your event, they will typically remain “in service” and stage the apparatus somewhere that allows them to leave quickly if they are dispatched to an emergency.
4. Crew visits at community events are typically scheduled for 1-2 hours, with the understanding that an emergency response may cause the crew to arrive late to the event, to leave abruptly, or in some cases, to not be able to show up at all.
5. Submission of a form does not guarantee approval. The Rapid City Fire Department reserves the right to deny a request at Rapid City Fire Department discretion.
6. After your completed form is received, we will send you an e-mail confirmation within one week acknowledging that your request was received and is being reviewed.
7. It is highly recommended that your event not be centered on an appearance by the Rapid City Fire Department, but rather should be approached as a complimentary element to your program.
8. Completed forms may be submitted:
-In person at Rapid City Fire Department Headquarters located at 10 Main St. in downtown Rapid City.
Rapid City Fire Department Headquarters
10 Main St
Rapid City, SD 57701
-Faxed to the Rapid City Fire Department, C/O Lt. Jim Bussell, (605)-394-6754
9. All forms must be filled out completely and include a signature in order to be considered.
The Rapid City Fire Department is trained to provide CPR for pets in distress at the scene of fires. For more, please click here to see a story by David Stradling of KOTA TV.
To the Honorable Mayor, City Council and Residents of Rapid City,
I respectfully submit this annual report as a comprehensive summary of the many accomplishments and activities of the Rapid City Fire Department for 2016. The Rapid City Fire Department is in constant pursuit of organizational excellence and this report is evidence of those efforts. Of the various services that are provided by the local government, the Fire Department is unique in that we provide a service that adds value to the community and the quality of life of our citizenry.
This service in some respects is immeasurable. While data can provide for a statistical analysis of the organization’s performance, how do you put a price on or measure the importance of having a safe community for your family? Fact is the majority of our customers never expected to call upon the Fire Department this year. But when they did, they were served by some of the most caring, compassionate and dedicated professionals in the business of public safety.
In 2016, we responded to 16,483 calls for service, either emergent or non-emergent. This number for the first time since 2011, was a reduction in calls for service in most major categories of reporting. We’d like to think this wasn’t an accident and look to see this downward trend continue. The reduction could have been in part to initiatives such as residential safety inspections, deployment of a mobile medic program, or an increased emphasis on community wide risk reduction. Regardless, the Fire Department will continue to find ways to reduce injury, loss of life, loss of property or damage to the environment as we move forward in a proactive manner.
A few highlights for 2016 that should be important to our citizens as well as the Fire Department were the improved Insurance Services Office (ISO) Fire Protection Classification rating from a 3 to that of a 2. This improvement in our firefighting capabilities reduces insurance premiums for property owners in Rapid City. A rating of a 2, places the Rapid City Fire Department in the top 2% of nearly 50,000 fire departments across the country that go through an ISO assessment. As an indicator of our risk reduction efforts and firefighting capabilities, nearly 90% of all fires in the City were contained to the room or object of origin. In other words, fires in Rapid City were kept small by either automatic fire sprinkler systems, early detection through modern fire detection systems or suppressed by our highly capable firefighting operations. In 2016, we only saw two civilian injuries and NO FIRE FATALITIES. On a side note, we were able to keep our firefighters safe and did not see any major injuries to our personnel. This is due to our commitment to operational readiness, training, preparation, physical fitness and subscribing to a culture of firefighter safety.
In closing, it has been an honor and a privilege of mine to serve as Fire Chief for the Rapid City Fire Department since 2010. My retirement from the Rapid City Fire Department was effective December 30, 2016. I was blessed with overwhelming support from both the community and the organization. As my last act as Fire Chief, I want to thank those that have held this office for paving the way for myself and Chiefs to come. Secondly, I want to thank those individuals that I have had the privilege to serve alongside for the last 27 years. Some were mentors of mine, others were my best friends or extended family and most importantly I want to thank those that I served most closely with on either engine companies, medic units or as chief officers for keeping me safe and looking after me. Retirement will be bitter sweet for me as I am leaving one of the best Fire Department’s in the country and the best group of co-workers anyone could ask for.
Mike Maltaverne- Fire Chief
Rapid City Fire Department
The Rapid City Fire and Parks Departments work together on the Rapid City Veteran Training and Wildfire Mitigation program. The program, started June 14, 2013, is part of the city's successful Survivable Space Initiative, which focuses on the removal of hazardous fuels associated with wildfires. Wildfire is a constant threat every year in the Black Hills, and, programs like these help communities like Rapid City reduce the threat of a catastrophic fire event in areas where neighborhoods are mixed with natural vegetative fuels.
Our veteran crews assists the city of Rapid City with wildfire preparedness in hazardous fuel removal and receive training in areas of fire fighting, emergency preparedness, equipment operation, forestry, parks, and public education.
Under the city's Urban Interface Management Plan, the Fire Department and Parks Department work together to battle mountain pine beetle infestations in the city and tackle hazardous fuel reduction for wildfire. An every growing problem, and one where manpower and funds are a premium, the BLM Community Assistance Program greatly assists in this effort.
A project in process. The Veteran Crew has not worked on the trees on the left and have finished working on the trees on the right. This heavy fuel loading has a catastrophic wildfire potential. The treated area on the right provides a safety benefit for both residents and firefighters in our community. Without funding from program like the BLM Wildfire Community Assistance program, the massive amount of work to remove this hazardous fuel would prove extremely difficult.
Modifying fuels near a home in a high risk area is important to reduce fire behavior in the event of a wildfire. To help homeowners accomplish this task, the City of Rapid City will offer chipping of removed fuels for high risk neighborhoods by appointment.
This is not a debris removal, landscaping or cleanup project. The larger woody brush, small pines, cedars, junipers, and other overgrown woody brush material pose the greatest fire threat. Debris or landscaping described as unacceptable will not be removed. Piles mixed with unacceptable materials may not be removed.
For more information on the chipping program, please contact Lt. Tim Weaver at (605)-394-5233.
Survivable Space Initiative
Homeowners, like this couple on the left, who improve the safety of their home and property from wildland fire may receive recognition from the city.
The Survivable Space Initiative works to create survivable spaces, meaning they are more likely to withstand a wildfire without intervention and direct protection by fire fighters. During a large wildfire event, fire fighting resources may not be able to protect all properties.
Rapid City homeowners who meet minimum standards in protecting their property from wildland fire may receive the Survivable Space Initiative recognition which includes a plaque to post on the property and a certificate.
Homewoners in high risk areas may also request a chipper and crew remove piles of smaller wildfire fuels in their community. To learn more, click here.
Lieutenant Weaver is happy to speak with homeowners associations or neighborhood groups about the Survivable Space Initiative.
Most homeowners are aware of their danger but need guidance and cost assistance. The Rapid City Fire Department works with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and the local Great Plains Fire Safe Council to make education and grant money available to homeowners.
Communities in Rapid City are receiving national Firewise Recognition for their ongoing efforts to make their neighborhood more resistive to fire. Check back later to learn more about those communities.
To read our Open Letter to Homeowners, please click here.
Before: Fire can easily spread from the grass to the trees and to this house.
After: The space is survivable due to the non-combustible roof and siding, the low vegetation near the house, green grass barrier, and an open tree canopy.
Open, well-maintained areas can create a barrier between the fire and the home.
Screening under the deck helps to prevent flying embers from smoldering in debris near the home, preventing a common cause of wildland urban interface fires.
Before (above): Dense undergrowth can quickly spread a fire into the trees and to the home.
After (below): Thinning produces a clean, safe, and park-like setting.
Assembly & Event Planning
Blasting Permit Blasting permits can be obtained in person in our office at 1930 Promise Road. Please call 605-394-5233 for answers and regulations about blasting.
Fire & Building Codes and Permits We have adopted the 2003 International Fire Code with local amendments in the City of Rapid City Code of Ordinances Chapter 8.24
Local ammendments to the International Residential Code, Building Code, Electrical Code, and Gas Code are in Chapter 15 at the link above.
These building and fire codes reference National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards which can be viewed online here.
Building Permits and Reviews are submitted to the Building Services Division of the Community Planning and Development Services.
Fire Lanes Fire Lane Ordinance
Recreational or backyard fire use Recreational fires on private property are allowed in city limits when the grasslands fire danger is not Very High or Extreme. View today's fire danger here. Examples are fires in a fire pit, chimnea, or other outdoor wood stove. Learn more about enjoying fire responsibly here.
Open Burning Permit (Agricultural and Bonfire) The Operations Division of the fire department oversees permits for agricultural use and certain bonfires. pdf Download an application and review the requirements here. (13 KB) Return the application to our headquarters at 10 Main Street for approval. The day of the burn call the on duty Battalion Chief at 605-394-4180.
Fireworks – Residential Only novelty consumer fireworks are allowed in city limits. These include poppers and sparklers. All other fireworks traditionally sold at a firework stand are not legal to light within city limits.
Turnaround Download specifications for our pdf widest turning vehicle here (50 KB) .
For more information regarding required fire-related permits within Rapid City, please contact the Fire and Life Safety Division at 605-394-5233.
Special Response Team
The Pennington County Special Response Team is a law enforcement team that is used in life threatening critical events that are beyond the capabilities of normal patrol resources. These events include High Risk Search Warrants, Hostage Negotiations, and Active Shooters. To resolve these types of incidents, the SRT uses professional and standardized training to deploy special weapons and tactics.
The team is made up of law enforcement officers from the Rapid City Police Department, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and four Paramedics from the Rapid City Fire Department. The Paramedics from the Rapid City Fire Department are trained in Tactical Emergency Medical Support. This is specialized medical training to provide immediate lifesaving skills in scenes too dangerous for ambulance operations.
Heavy Rescue is located at Station 7. Heavy Rescue specializes in structural collapse rescue, trench rescue, confined space rescue, high angle rescue and vehicle extrication. A high level of training and hours goes into obtaining and maintaining these certifications. Station 7 is also the home to “Cisco”, the canine search dog. He is a Belgian Melinois and is certified to find live victims in wilderness search and building collapse. He is currently the only canine in South Dakota certified in building collapse search.
Select members of the heavy rescue station- including Cisco- are members of South Dakota Task Force 1. Station 7 provides the search and rescue component for task force. The task force is made up of members from Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and Watertown.
Water Rescue Team
The Rapid City/Pennington County Water Rescue Team (WRT) has been a combined effort of the Rapid City Fire Department, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Rapid City Police Department, since 1987. The team provides services to Rapid City, Pennington County and the surrounding region.
The WRT can respond to a variety of calls, including:
As the largest water rescue team in the region, the WRT is classified as a Type III response team and is currently undergoing training to enhance their capabilities to a Type II response team.
The team can be called to a myriad of water related calls and the members perform their duties in trying and hazardous conditions that include black water diving, ice diving, night time operations, and exposure to extreme temperatures. The team is available 24 hours a day.
With the area’s growing population and increased interest in water sports, as well as a continuing threat of flooding from Rapid Creek and the surrounding area, the WRT is an essential part of the public safety efforts provided by the cooperating agencies. Over the past several years, the WRT has responded to dozens of water related calls for service including drowning rescue and recovery, evidence recovery, and swift water rescues and recovery.
We would like to share some useful links to several of our cooperators and stakeholders.