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Fire departments still needs volunteers


March 7, 2017

By Melea VanOstrand


Rapid City, SD (KOTA TV) —With seven fires this past weekend, the fire service was close to using up it's resources. 

And with volunteer firefighter numbers down, that can pose a problem.

"When things happen like that, it takes a toll on how many people are available just because everybody is spread out, and we have a very large geographic county," said Whispering Pines Fire Chief Jeremy Walla.

Recruiting volunteers is a challenge and so is retaining them past a year.

"I look at it as a generational gap as far as people not being involved as much as they were before," said Jerome Harvey, Pennington County Fire Service Administration.

Many people also don't want to work for free.

"When you know that you've made a difference, when you go to a call and you save somebody, helped somebody and made their day better, that's payment in itself," said Walla.

A Busy Start Of The Year For The Rapid City Fire Department

KELO Land News

January 25, 2017

By Sarah McDonald


Rapid City, SD — It has been a busy January for the Rapid City Fire Department. One day, it received 75 calls. Dispatchers also answered nearly 180 calls over three days earlier this month.

Typically, the Rapid City Fire department averages about 30-40 calls a day, but in early January, the department saw an increase.

"We had one day with 75 calls, and the days before and after were higher than usual, in that 40, 50, getting up to 60, so it was busier," Fire and Life Safety Specialist Monica Colby said.

Oklahoma fire dept. rocks all-baby holiday card

A small paid department looked back on the year and saw that six of their brothers had newborn babies


December 14, 2016

By Richard Parker, Engineer/Paramedic


DURANT, Okla. — In any fire department, there are so many things that make up the dynamic of an engine crew, certain shift or even the department as a whole. 

Firefighters tend to say brotherhood and family defines their core being. So when this small paid department of 33 looked back on the year and saw that six of their brothers had newborn babies, it was time to show the public what was at the core of their department. 

Instead of sending out the traditional Christmas card with a photograph of the crew in front of the station, it was decided that it would be great to showcase what was really important to our firefighters: family. Here are some photos from the department’s newest additions.

Million-acre forest plan designed to make Black Hills more resilient to fire, bugs

Black Hills Pioneer

September 21, 2016

By Jaci Conrad Pearson

DEADWOOD — In roughly two decades, the Black Hills mountain pine beetle infestation has decimated approximately 215,000 acres of pine trees in the Black Hills, leaving drastically changed woodlands in its wake.

The devastation has spurred the U.S. Forest Service to develop the Black Hills Resilient Landscapes Project, with a request for comments from the public due Friday.

Designed to reduce fire hazards and promote biodiversity on more than one million acres of public land in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming, the framework for the major new management plan, is set forth in a document titled the “Black Hills Resilient Landscapes Project.”

Rhonda O’Byrne, Northern Hills District ranger and manager of the project, said the program is the first step toward addressing the devastation caused by the mountain pine beetle epidemic and its impediment of meeting desired forest management standards and guidelines set forth in overall resource management plans.

“This is what we look back to for the plan ... What should we be doing here? ... Are we meeting the desired conditions today?” O’Byrne said. “Or is there something we need to do to meet the conditions in the forest that have drastically changed, due to the mountain pine beetle? When we looked at the most recent forest monitoring report, given the effect of the epidemic, we were not meeting structural stage objectives set out in the forest plan.”

Because the insects have decimated forests in some areas, dead and fallen pine trees have also created wildfire hazards. Meanwhile, natural reforestation of ponderosa pines has led to the development of dense stands of young trees that need to be thinned to promote healthy forest development. The Forest Service plan also seeks to protect and promote the growth of stands of aspen and hardwood trees, which are resistant to fire.

Best undergarments to protect firefighter from burns

Here's a comprehensive look at what to wear under your bunker gear and why


September 16, 2016

By Robert Avsec 

Ask any firefighters about the importance of always wearing the proper flame-resistant outer garments — turnout gear or wildland firefighting shirt and pants — and most get it.

The matter of what they wear under their protective clothing is a horse of a different color as some firefighters have been attracted to undergarments made from polyester and other synthetic fabrics.

The advent of performance underwear made to wick moisture and keep the wearer cooler continues to gain market share, particularly among professional athletes and weekend warriors alike.

It's no wonder then that firefighters, who are athletes in their own right, would take great interest in undergarments that would help them to be more comfortable while on the job.

Laboratory tests showed that firefighters wearing synthetic undergarments may be more likely to suffer burn injuries because the synthetic materials might melt and stick to their skin. In those tests, undergarments made up of 100 percent cotton or 100 percent wool did not ignite, melt or char during testing.

What to look for

  • There are roughly five different base components being used by manufacturers to produce fire-resistant undergarments.

  • Oxidized polyacrylonitrile.

  • Meta-Aramid (Nomex).

  • Modacrylic (A manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is composed of less than 85 percent but at least 35 percent by weight of acrylonitrile units).

  • Para-Aramid (Kevlar).

  • Polybenzimidazole (PBI).

10 Reasons Why You Should Do More Strength Training and Cardio

Michael Wood Blog

August 20, 2016

By Michael Wood

I have been looking back on some of my recent strength training sessions as well as the interval training I have been doing on the cardio side. We have a tendency, with exercise, to judge if it’s working by what the bathroom scale currently reads. But that should not be the case; weight loss does not always depict the full story. With each bout of exercise, we are improving various physiological and psychological aspects of our body that are not visible to the naked eye. For example:

Strength Training:

  • Building muscle mass can increase metabolism by 15% – so if you’re looking to rev up that slow metabolism and become or stay functional as you age – you need to be strength training at least a few times each week.

  • Prevents Sarcopenia – which is the loss of muscle mass as you age – you can lose up to 10% or more of your muscle per decade after age 50.

  • Plays a role in disease prevention – like type 2 diabetes for example.

  • Improves the way your body moves resulting in better balance and less falls as you age (you can reduce your risk for falling by 40%).

  • Preserves the loss of muscle during weight loss (Donnelly et al., 2003)

  • Will offset bone loss as you age – women can expect to lose 1% of their bone mass after age 35 (and this increases following menopause) – see Strong Women, Strong Bones

Cardiovascular Exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise will improve your mood by decreasing stress and anxiety levels – read The Inner Runner by Jason Karp, Phd and Exercise for Mood and Anxiety by Michael Otto, Phd and Jasper Smits, PhD

  • Regular cardio exercise like jogging, hiking, jump roping etc will “load” your bones in your lower extremity and make them stronger.

  • Makes your heart stronger, lowers your resting heart rate and enables your body to deliver oxygen more efficiently to your working muscles.

  • The American College of Sports Medicine states that higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with approximately a 50% reduction in disease risk.


Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., Pronk, N., Smith, B.K., Kirk, E.P., Jacobsen, D.J., Washburn, R. “Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management?” Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 2003; 1(1): 21-29.

9/11 remembered: A son in harm's way


September 11, 2016

By Robert Rielage

Every Patriots' Day brings back memories. You distinctly remember where you were when you first heard the news of an airplane hitting the World Trade Center.

You remember scrambling in disbelief to a television only to see a column of black smoke rising across the Manhattan skyline. Then, if you hadn't already realized that the United States was under attack, you witnessed another plane strike the second twin tower — and you knew the world would never be the same for you again.

Each of the attacks on 9/11 had a personal significance to me. At the time, I was serving as the state fire marshal Reynoldsburg, Ohio just outside of Columbus. Our oldest son, a Navy officer, was serving at the Pentagon with his office less than 100 feet from the crater created by the impact and fires of American Airlines Flight 77.

He had trained and served on the Virginia Beach Fire — Rescue as both a reserve firefighter and an EMT while assigned in the Norfolk area. He used both skill sets that day.

After assisting in the building evacuation, he began to help with patient triage. When he heard reports of victims still inside, he and two others re-entered the building to search. With only a pressure washer, they attempted to fight their way through the flames to the command center where several of his colleagues were trapped.

Should fire chiefs give firefighters guns?

FireChief - By FireRescue1.Com

August 9, 2016

By Rob Wylie

For the past five years I have spent many hours developing and teaching a course called "Pre-Meditated Responder Ambush." One topic raises its head every class: Do you think firefighters should be allowed to carry a weapon?

Unfortunately, like most things in our profession, this is not a simple yes or no answer.

Rising fire dangers concern emergency responders

Though many municipalities provide their volunteer fire departments with financial assistance, Emmaus issues firefighters payroll checks and W-2 tax forms

Black Hills Pioneer

August 3, 2016

By Mark Watson

Spearfish, SD — The drought conditions in the Black Hills and surrounding prairie have local fire departments and firefighters ready to pounce on a blaze should the call come, and with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally just days away and the potential addition of a half million or more people to the area, the chance of a wildfire starting increases a little more.
“Everything is dry. Everything is hot,” said Paul Thomson, Lawrence County Emergency Manager.

Sand Fire Update - KHTS News - Santa Clarita, CA

KHTS AM 1220

July 26, 2016

By KHTS Staff

Court weighs if volunteer firefighters can unionize

Though many municipalities provide their volunteer fire departments with financial assistance, Emmaus issues firefighters payroll checks and W-2 tax forms


June 9, 2016

By FR1 Staff


Harrisburg, PA – A full bench of Commonwealth Court judges questioned Wednesday whether Emmaus had exceeded state requirements to provide adequate fire services, creating an unusual employment relationship that gives its firefighters the right to unionize..

The clearly ambivalent seven-judge panel went out of its way to acknowledge that members of volunteer fire departments provide essential, life-saving services that distinguish them from any other kind of municipal volunteer.

But they also wondered if Emmaus took a unique approach in both exerting considerable control over its volunteer fire department and paying members hourly wages.

Research investigates EMS providers’ role in preventing patient PTSD

Newly trained EMS providers are asked to participate in a survey about recognizing and treating patients at risk of traumatic stress


June 7, 2016

By EMS1 Staff


PHILADELPHIA, PA – Researchers are performing a study of EMS providers who have recently completed their training to evaluate providers’ knowledge and confidence regarding the assessment and prevention of post-traumatic stress in their patients.

Recent in-hospital studies have indicated that early identification and intervention can be crucial in the prevention and treatment of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

"We have found that when emergency providers adjust their behavior, vocabulary and overall approach toward ill and injured patients, they play a key role in reducing the psychological and emotional impact on patients and families," Joel Fein, MD, MPH, professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania, and lead researcher in this study, said.

Custer mourns girl who died in septic tank


Associated Press 7:43 a.m. CDT

May 10, 2016


Sheriff isn’t releasing details of the incident but said no criminal charges are likely


CUSTER, SD – The western South Dakota community of Custer is in mourning after a 2-year-old girl fell into an open underground septic tank and died.Residents have tied teal-and-purple ribbons around town in memory of Evelyn Ferraro, KOTA-TV reported.


“We’re all just grieving for this poor family and the little girl they lost,” said neighbor Brit Beemer. “Everybody feels that it’s just a horrible, terrible, terrible, tragedy.”


The girl was reported missing Friday morning from the mobile home court west of Custer where she lived with her family. Rescuers drained the nearby tank and found the unresponsive girl, but were unable to save her. She died at a Custer hospital that morning. Her organs are being donated.


“There’s nothing that compares to the loss of an innocent,” Custer County Search and Rescue Director Rick March said. “A 2-year-old child — that’s as tough as it gets.”


Law officers, emergency responders and hospital staff gathered Saturday to discuss the incident.

FireWise - Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Hazards Prevention


April 20, 2016

Silver City VFD


SCVFD Supporters


Our current fire danger in the Silver City Fire Protection District is "high", and has already been "extreme" in this Spring 2016.  It is predicted to have a higher fire danger this summer compared to the past 2-3 years, and the Silver City VFD wants to help you assess your property's fire readiness and to assist you in addressing fire prevention measures you can take for your properties.


Attached is a PDF document from the national "FireWise" program that provides information and guidelines for assessing your fire prevention levels and suggestions on how to mitigate miscellaneous fuel loads around your house.

NOTE: Silver City is a FireWise community, and all the communities within our fire district are encouraged to consider becoming a FireWise community to help with wildland fire prevention in your neighborhood!
For more information contact:  Phil Schlief, SCVFD Board President and FireWise committee chairperson


​Scope & Purpose


The scope of this document is to create an awareness of a variety of concepts and methodologies for assessing the threat of wildfire to individual homes, residential developments, and communities in wildland areas throughout the United States and bordering countries.


The purpose of this document is to provide individuals and organizations involved or interested in preventing wildland/urban interface fire disasters with concepts, recommendations, and resources that may be used to assess and mitigate wildfire hazards in WUI areas. Specifically, this document addresses the relationships between the assessment of an individual home and the collective homes within a subdivision (residential development). Information is provided as to how the uniform hazard assessment process of the Firewise Communities program may relate to jurisdictional level planning, such as Community Wildfire Protection Plans.


Next Step(s)


  • Read through the attached PDF document (click on PDF icon to the left to download) and contact the SCVFD if you have any questions.

  • If you'd like to schedule a free assessment of your home / property, please contact the SCVFD by either going to our "Contact Us" section of the SCVFD website or contact Chief Tobin at the contact information below.

Let's all be safe this fire season, and thank you in advance for helping the Silver City Volunteer Fire Department in 2016 with your fire prevention measures!


Todd Tobin

Fire Chief                                 



Phil Schlief

Firewise Contact


Should we mandate firefighter health, fitness?
Deciding how much of a firefighter's health should be personal responsibility and how much should be mandated is a tricky proposition


April 8, 2016


By: Rick Markley, Editor in Chief FireRescue1


The tragic story of Houston firefighting cadet Steven Whitfield II's line-of-duty death during a training exercise opened some unexpected debates. I say unexpected as the discussions raised are only loosely tied to Whitfield's death.


By all accounts, Whitfield was in peak physical shape and health when he collapsed unexpectedly during an obstacle-course evolution. And, he was a cadet going through Houston's fire academy.


So it struck me as odd that some on the department began calling for mandatory fitness testing and physicals for firefighters — odd in that neither would have prevented his death.


In short, some firefighters are calling for mandatory annual physicals and fitness testing without punishment for those who fail. The department already offers, but doesn't require, free annual physicals for firefighters.


Regardless of the circumstances, this is an important discussion for the fire service. And if you set aside the dynamics of collective bargaining, this issue boils down to a decision we need to make as a fire service and as a society.


If firefighters are fully informed about what is good and what is bad for their well-being, will they make the right life choices? And, if they don't make the right choices and everyone else has some financial stake in those choices, should those right choices be mandated?


In her recent piece, columnist Sara Jahnke compared tobacco smoking in the fire service with that in the general population and rightly says that we all know smoking is bad for our health. In a career firefighter setting, health insurance costs to members will be somewhat influenced by its use — smokers will likely use it more. In a volunteer setting, a smoker who can't perform at a peak level could affect the safety of others.

Texas fire truck struck by DWI driver, no firefighters hurt
The fire truck was blocking a lane to shield first responders who were responding to a traffic accident


March 14, 2016

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

By: Robert Cadwallader


ARLINGTON, Texas — A 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving early Saturday after his SUV smacked into the back of an Arlington firetruck that was blocking a lane to shield first responders at a traffic accident.


No one was injured in the incident at about 1 a.m. in the 500 block of N. Texas 360. But Lt. David Tyler, spokesman for the Arlington Fire Department, said that might not have been the case if it weren’t for the 22-ton Engine 11.


“I am very confident that the truck’s position prevented death or serious injury to the people it was protecting,” Tyler said. “Police cruisers do not have the shear mass of a fire truck to absorb the energy of such an impact.”

Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires


National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Author: Marty Ahrens
Issued: September 2015


Report (pdf formatted file click here) includes statistics on home smoke alarm usage, effectiveness, operationality, and home fire fatalities in fires with and without working smoke alarms. Also includes home fire death rate with different combinations of fire protection equipment. Brief discussion of literature on audibility and waking effectiveness.




Smoke alarms provide a critical early warning of fire, allowing additional time to escape. National estimates of reported fires derived from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) fire department survey show that in 2009-2013, fires in homes with no smoke alarms caused an average of 940 deaths per year (38% of home fire deaths). An additional 510 people per year (21% of home fire deaths) were fatally injured in fires in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate.  Power source problems were the leading cause of smoke alarm failures.


Almost all households indicate having smoke alarms, yet smoke alarms were present in slightly less than three-quarters (73%) of reported home fires and operated in roughly half (53%). When present in reported fires large enough to activate them, they operated 87% of the time. Hardwired smoke alarms were more likely to operate than those powered solely by batteries. 


The death rate per 100 reported fires was more than twice as high in homes with no or no working smoke alarms (1.18 deaths per 100 fires) as it was in fires with working smoke alarms (0.53 deaths per 100 fires). The lowest fire death rates were seen in homes with hardwired smoke alarms and sprinklers. Victims in homes with working smoke alarms were more likely to have been in the area of origin. They were also more likely to be 65 or older, to have a physical disability or to have tried to fight the fire themselves.






















Crews clean up after grassfire in Buffalo Gap
Fire caused from burning rubbish in a high fire danger area


March 05, 2016

KEVN Black Hills FOX

By: Robert Grant


Buffalo Gap, SD -- Firefighters were busy cleaning up Friday after a grassfire spread in Buffalo Gap Thursday.


Heath Lowry with the Custer County Sheriff's Office says a 61-year-old resident was burning rubbish when the fire got away from him.


The current dry conditions helped to fuel the flames, which burned through a hay yard and damaged a mobile home.


Fire officials say it took just about 20 minutes for the fire to spread more than 6 acres.

Incident Commander Dar Coy said, "The way our conditions are right now, if we don't get on it quick, then we're here for a week ... And it's what we learn in the fire service is it's usually better to ramp up early and send them home than it is to not have them when you need them."


Firefighters from 13 different departments battled the flames.


It sparked around 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon and crews stayed until about 7 p.m.

But, the Buffalo Gap Fire Department stayed overnight watching for hot spots.


Officials say this a stark reminder to practice fire safety - especially with humidity expected to drop to just 15 percent this weekend.


Coy said, "We need to remind everybody to be very careful right now because even today our humidity is very low and our temperatures are up. This is just an example of what a small fire can do - to all of a sudden it's a big deal."


Fortunately, there were no injuries reported.

National firefighter cancer registry bill before House
The national registry would be managed by the CDC and would allow for more data for research


February 26, 2016


By: FireRescue1 Staff


WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill introduced in the House today would create a national cancer registry for firefighters.


The Bergen Dispatch reported the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, introduced by Reps Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), would establish a registry managed by the Center for Disease Control to improve nationwide monitoring of the occurrence of cancer among firefighters.


Research has shown there is a link between firefighting and an increased risk of cancer due to the toxins firefighters are exposed to on a regular basis.


“We ask the brave men and women in the fire service to stare down danger and risk their lives each day, which is why we must do all we can to have their backs,” Pascrell said.


“We need a broader understanding of the trends associated with why, how and when our firefighters are contracting this life threatening disease. Establishing a national cancer registry is the first step to building a database where health experts can study the factors associated with cancer diagnoses in the firefighting community,” Hanna said.


A national cancer registry would allow for easier storage and consolidation of information about incidences of cancer among firefighters, provide robust data for research purposes, and improve understanding of cancer among firefighters, which could lead to new safety protocols.

Firefighters battle structure blaze in high winds
Dispite several fire departments efforts, Rapid Valley home destroyed


February 19, 2016

KOTA Territory News


RAPID VALLEY, SD - At 7:10 Friday morning a call came in about a structure fire on Raveen Drive to the Rapid Valley fire department. Multiple departments from Rapid Valley, Rapid City, North Haines, and Box Elder responded, with the first fire truck arriving at 7:20 am.


Fifty percent of the home was involved in the fire with the arrival of the first fire crew. Due to the high winds the structure was a complete lose and the focus was to contain the fire from spreading to other structures in the neighborhood.

Firefighting grants may be cut in 2017
Obama sent Congress a proposed budget that calls for less AFG and SAFER funding; use this election year to press for funding


February 16, 2016


By Jerry Brant


With sequestration, government shutdowns and the FEMA calendar being thrown at us over the past few years, let's take a few minutes and get a grasp of just where we stand with funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant and Staffing for Adequate Emergency Response Grant.


As a reminder, the federal government's fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. In recent years, the government, while still officially under that timetable has allowed agencies to operate their programs outside of that time line.


Thus, FEMA has yet to open the 2015 SAFER or FP&S grant programs even though we are five months into the 2016 fiscal year.


This has caused problems with local departments trying to develop budgets and staffing plans for their coverage area since any previous funding they may have received from FEMA for SAFER has probably been exhausted.

No aid fire chief offers no apology
The chief who refused to dispatch a tender to a mutual-aid fire due to no formal agreement, stands by his call


February 25, 2016


By: FireRescue1 Staff


DeFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. — The Liberty (Fla.) Volunteer Fire Department assistant chief who told dispatch to bypass his department for a mutual-aid request is standing by his decision.


Chief Tony Roy said not only should the county have expected that response in wake of their defunding the department in 2014, they can expect more of the same in the future.


The dust up came to a head last November when the Walton County Fire Department requested a tender from Liberty for a house fire where it had limited water supply...

Department’s refusal to help fight fire sparks debate (Due to lack of County funding)

February 15, 2016

Northwest Florida Daily News

By Tom McLaughlin


FORT WALTON BEACH, FL — Liberty Fire District Assistant Chief Tony Roy’s refusal to send a tanker truck to a burning home in another jurisdiction has sparked discussion in Walton County over local mutual aid agreements.


At 3:30 p.m. Nov. 25, Walton County Fire Rescue requested that Liberty dispatch a truck to a house fire at 169 Lorenz Drive near DeFuniak Springs.


A dispatcher relayed the message to the independent fire district and a man identified by several sources as Roy got on his radio.


“You’ll need to bypass Liberty due to funding considerations of the county,” he told the dispatcher.

Pigs OK after Freeman barn fire

February 10, 2016

Daily Repulic News


FREEMAN, SD — A straw fire inside a pig barn was extinguished Friday before any damage was caused to the structure or animals.

At about 4:30 p.m. Friday, the Freeman Fire Department responded to a barn fire on Highway 81, about two-and-a-half miles south of Freeman.


About 20 Freeman firefighters arrived at the barn, which belongs to Maynard Yoder and is rented by Kyle Waltner, both of Freeman.


The barn was housing about eight pigs and filled with smoke, but no flames were visible, Freeman Fire Chief Cody Fransen said.


According to Fransen, the pigs are believed to have knocked over a heat lamp, which caused some straw to smolder. The firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire.


No pigs were injured, and the fire only damaged some straw in the building, Fransen said.

Gilbert firefighter hit by bullet in ammo-filled garage fire

February 7, 2016

The Republic |


Gilvert, AZ — A firefighter was hit by a stray bullet Sunday morning as emergency crews extinguished a fire inside a Gilbert garage containing hundreds of rounds of ammunition.


. . . . A bullet struck a firefighter's helmet, but he did not suffer any injuries, Hildebrandt said. Other bullets hit a nearby home's garage door and stucco exterior.

Fire destroys paint shop

February 2, 2016

Rapid City Journal


Rapid City, SD — A fire Monday night destroyed this painting facility near the intersection of West Highway 44 and Nameless Cave Road southwest of Rapid City.


Fire crews watch a storage garage for a painting company engulfed in flames Monday night near the intersection of West SD Hwy 44 and Nameless Cave Road.  According to Johnson Siding Fire Department Chief Steve Smart there were no injuries from the fire and the cause is under investigation but is likely accidental.  The biggest challenge according to Chief Smart was the falling snow Monday night that created slick road conditions that slowed access to the business.

Smoke From Slash Burns Important Part of Black Hills Winter

January 26, 2016


By Kevin Woster


Lead, SD — Winter is a time of snow and smoke in the Black Hills National Forest, as crews burn slash piles left from tree-cutting operations during the warmer months.


And just looking at the flames and the smoke billowing up into the winter sky, you might expect the slash piles set ablaze by crews from the U.S. Forest Service and other natural-resources management agencies to generate a flurry of forest-fire reports.


"Not necessarily," Brian Rafferty, a district fuels technician for the Black Hills National Forest who was overseeing a slash-pile burn near Lead on Tuesday, said. "I think folks are so used to seeing smoke in the air here in the wintertime, we really don't get a lot."


Which is good because there would be plenty to report by a less-well-educated public. That’s because winter is the catch-up time for reducing slash left from logging and tree-thinning work during warmer months. In a world where prescribed burns can and have gone wrong, the threat is reduced by the cold and especially by the snow cover.


"We have to have a certain depth of snow on the ground, at least a minimum of three inches of snow," Rafferty said..

Harrison firetruck damaged in rollover on icy road

January 17, 2016

Portland Press Hearld


Portland, ME —The driver, veteran volunteer firefighter Maurice Kautz, suffered minor cuts and bruises but was not seriously injured.



A town of Harrison firetruck suffered significant damage to its front end after it slid down a steep, icy private road and rolled over Sunday afternoon.


Town Manager George “Bud” Finch said the driver, veteran volunteer firefighter Maurice Kautz, suffered minor cuts and bruises but was not seriously injured.


However, the amount of damage sustained by Engine 4 was significant, Finch said. He said the town will need to figure out some way to replace the first response engine on a temporary basis until the damage can be fixed. The firetruck was fully insured.


“He (Kautz) is an experienced older driver, but the road is very steep. We’re just happy that no one was hurt,” Finch said Sunday evening.


According to Finch, Engine 4 was sent to Harrison Heights Road around 11:55 a.m. to investigate a report of a carbon monoxide detector going off in a home in a private development located on top of a hill overlooking the lakes region.


Finch said the road had been plowed, but “limited” amounts of sand had been spread over it. It was determined that the carbon monoxide detector had malfunctioned.


Engine 4 was returning to the fire station when Kautz started to lose control of the truck. He applied the brakes, but Engine 4 continued to slide down Harrison Heights Road and across Route 35, where it rolled over into a wooded area.

Silver City VFD will NOT be coordinating the mountain pine beetle (MPB) spraying program in 2016

January 13, 2016



Silver City, SD — Dear SCVFD Supporters, the Silver City VFD WILL NOT be coordinating a Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) spraying program in 2016.


If you choose to have your trees sprayed this year, you need to contact the supplier directly for pricing and spraying services that are suggested to be completed by the end of June. There are still MPB infestation areas in the central Black Hills / Silver City Fire Protection District, however, the damage is reduced from previous years (2012-2015) at the height of the beetle epidemic in our district. Again, the SCVFD will no longer coordinate the MPB spraying activities in 2016.


Thank you for all your cooperation over the past four (4) years on this matter, and best of luck to you and your family in 2016!


Let me know if you have any questions.


Todd Tobin

Fire Chief / MPB Spraying Committee Chair

Silver City VFD

100 Sherman St.

Silver City, SD 57702-6016

605-484-5795 - cell

Rapid City Fire Department responds to record number of calls

January 5, 2016

KEVN Black Hills Fox


Rapid City, SD — The Rapid City Fire Department had a hectic 2015, with firefighters and medics responding to a record number of calls.


More than 17,000 calls kept the fire department busy last year, with the bulk of those being medical calls.Fire Chief Mike Maltaverne says what used to be a record–setting day, is now the norm for them.He says the alarming trend is seeing their calls only increase year after year.


Maltaverne says, "This year just the medical calls alone went up about 1,500 calls, so if you look at just, generally, if we did 17,000 calls this year, that was a 10 percent increase over last year. And in the last five years, that's a 25 percent increase from five years ago, and then going back 10 years, that's a 71 percent increase.


"Maltaverne says it's a challenge to respond to that many calls with the department's scarce resources and says they have outgrown their 40–year–old downtown building.

Man accused of stealing $144,645 from Kadoka Fire Department

January 2, 2016

Rapid City Journal


Rapid City, SD — A Kadoka man is accused of stealing $144,645 from a volunteer fire department during the past 10 years.


Paul Eugene Briggs, 74, is charged with grand theft. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison and a $30,000 fine.


Briggs was treasurer of the Kadoka Volunteer Fire Department, a nonprofit funded by the city and donations. He had the organization’s checkbook and allegedly took money from its bank account by making withdrawals and writing checks to cash on a number of occasions since 2005.


The criminal charge was filed Dec. 4 and is based on an investigation undertaken in October by an agent working for the state Division of Criminal Investigation. A written narrative of the agent’s investigation is included in the case’s public court file.


In that narrative, information provided by Kadoka Fire Chief Brian Fromm is identified as the basis of the investigation.


“Chief Fromm has been the FD’s President for a couple of years but had noticed that the FD was ‘always broke,’” the narrative says.

2015 Inductees Announced - National Fire and Emergency Services Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders

December 21, 2015

National Fire Heritage Center


Emmitsburg, MD — Emmitsburg, Md. The National Fire Heritage Center announced this week the Inductees intothe “National Fire and Emergency Services Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders” (HLLL) theprestigious acknowledgment of contributions of lasting importance to all who serve and thoseserved in communities large and small. This year’s Inductees were:


Inductees for 2015 [Induction Date: October 2, 2015]

  • James Braidwood

  • Keith Royer

  • Haraldur Stefansson

  • Ira H. Striejewske

  • Richard P. Sylvia

  • Harold G. Thompson

  • R. Brady Williamson

(the full list of Inductees to date appears at the end here)


Commenting on the importance of the Award, Chief William D. Killen, NFHC InteriumPresident, said, “These individuals join with a select group of others who gave ‘over and above’in service to their fellow mankind. They contributed greatly to the professional development andtechnical expertise now ingrained into the fabric of fire protection and fire services deliveryeverywhere.’


BACKGROUNDEach year, the National Fire Heritage Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland, inducts worthyindividuals into the HLLL. Nomination opportunities open at the beginning of each calendaryear and close on June 1st to allow for review and selection in time for the NFHC’s annualmeeting in early October. The HLLL provides individual recognition of significant contributionsand distinguished service to the Fire and Emergency Services mission.

Colorado firefighters get ballistic vests, helmets after shooting
A local business donated six vests and helmets to the department in the wake of the fatal Planned Parenthood shooting

December 15, 2015



PUEBLO WEST, Colo. — A business donated ballistic vests and helmets to firefighters in a Colorado city after the fatal Planned Parenthood shooting last week.


KOAA reported that the equipment will add an extra level of protection for Pueblo West (Colo.) firefighters heading into dangerous situations.


"It could happen at any time, those events are not planned, and that's where in the fire service, we have to be ready," said Brad Davidson, division chief of the Pueblo West Fire Department.


Chief Davidson says bringing on six bulletproof vests and helmets came at an important time.

"We want to take that extra step to provide that safety aspect to our personnel and make sure that they're safe to go in so they can do their job," Davidson said. "The goal at the end of the day is everybody goes home so we want to make sure that we provide the right equipment for that.”

The vests were donated by a Pueblo West business called Warrior Kit.

New Spearfish fire department will blend paid staff with volunteers

December 11, 2015

Rapid City Journal


SPEARFISH, SD -- Ten weeks after the Spearfish Volunteer Fire Department members voted to resign en masse, the city and Lawrence County are poised to create a city department that will blend a paid fire chief and administrative staff with volunteer firefighters.


Citing exhaustion, the rigors of fundraising and an inability to attract new volunteer leadership, a majority of the 134-year-old Spearfish Volunteer Fire Department, one of the oldest in western South Dakota, voted to disband, effective Jan. 31, 2016.  In the wake of that Sept. 29 action, the Spearfish City Council authorized Mayor Dana Boke to appoint a Fire Department Advisory Task Force.


Boke named a 10-member team that included several local volunteer firefighters, former Spearfish Fire Chief Stuart Williams, Spearfish Police Chief Pat Rotert, Rapid City Fire Chief Mike Maltaverne, Lawrence County Emergency Manager Paul Thomson, and Lawrence County Commissioner Randall Rosenau, among others. After meeting three times in October and November, the findings of the task force were presented Monday night to the Spearfish City Council by firefighter and task force member Adam Zeigler.


Zeigler told the council it was the task force’s unanimous recommendation to create a new Spearfish Fire Department, “which would be a distinct city department,” led by three full-time paid employees of the city of Spearfish. Such posts would include a fire chief and two command/support staff employees with titles and duties to be determined by the chief.


The task force also recommended certain conditions:

• Volunteer firefighters would continue to form the foundation of the department.

• The city would continue to provide fire protection services to rural areas outside city limits.

• A deferred compensation program for volunteers would be continued.

• The city would explore how it might assist with recruitment and retention of volunteers, including consideration of pay-per-call or other reimbursements to volunteers, and incentives for employers of volunteer firefighters.

6 questions medics should ask on every auto accident scene

December 6, 2015



The arrival of EMS is the moment when a motor vehicle collision incident shifts from chaos to order . . . 


By Steve Whitehead


The first few minutes of any complex scene, especially a car accident, are critical. Emotions are high and the environment is extremely unforgiving. The priorities we address or fail to address in those first few moments guide the direction of the scene for the duration of the call.


Some priorities can dramatically impact our safety and the wellbeing of our patients. But what should you do first? It can be tempting to rush to the first injured person and begin patient care. Instead of getting lost in the confusion, take a deep breath and remember to ask and answer these six questions.


1. Does everyone know the safe operating area?

As a firefighter, operating on an accident scene in a roadway is one of the most dangerous things I do. I’m far more likely to be struck by an inattentive motorist than to be injured on a ladder or inside of a burning building.

Belle Fourche Fire Department in search of more volunteers

Monday, November 30, 2015

Rapid City Journal


Belle Fourche, SD — In a year when volunteers are low, the Belle Fourche Fire Department is amping up its efforts to gain more people for its roster.


Firefighter Shawn Ankeny started the effort, and he's hoping being more visible in the community will help attract more people to the department. Ankeny has served on Sioux Falls and Las Vegas fire departments, and has been with the Belle Fourche department for about two years.


He, Nick Lopper and Andy Anderson set up a table in Lynn's Dakotamart Sunday afternoon, and have already scheduled times in other businesses to allow people to sign up and ask questions about the department. Sometimes, Ankeny said, people just don't know how to get involved with the fire department.

Rapid City fire department faces record call volume

Wednesday, November 19, 2015

KOTA Territory News


Rapid City, SD — To say Rapid City firefighters are busy is something of an understatement. The department is on track to set a record for service calls by a wide margin.And this comes on the heels of record call volume for years running.


“What we've seen is a close to a double digit increase each of the last three years,” said Fire Chief Mike Maltaverne.  Back in 2009 call volume was just over 13,000 but it has grown. This year could top out over 17,000.


Maltaverne keeps a close eye on the workload he asks his people to undertake.“It beats our staff up pretty good when we’re staffed for a certain service delivery model and then we set record numbers each year,” he said. “At what point did those employees begin to get strained maybe even past the breaking point? Our resources are spread thin at this time.


”Next year Maltaverne had hoped to bring on 16 new firefighters to his 143 person department. He asked the city council for seven new hires and sought a federal grant for nine more.The city gave him three and he was turned down for the grant.“A fear of mine is that we would fall behind and we can't meet the mission of the day and that's making sure that we have a safe community,” he said. “And I wholeheartedly believe we still do.”And where are these new calls coming from?“


Across the board,” said the chief. “Whether it be false alarms or medical calls or fires, we're busy across the board.”Maltaverne said he doesn't see the numbers dropping any time soon and said he's working with city leaders to craft a way forward.“It's no surprise to the elected officials and they're listening to us,” he said. “They're working with us to hopefully develop some plan for the future.”

3 habits great firefighters share

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

by David Soler



Constantly training, teaching others what you know and always being prepared are the hallmarks of great firefighters


Habits are an interesting and an integral part of who we are. And there's been a great deal of research into how and why habits function the way they do.


In his 2012 book, "The Power of Habit," Charles Duhigg writes that in the past decade science has learned more about habits than we ever could have dreamed of 50 years ago. They aren't simple to build, break and change, but it can be done and we now know how, Duhigg writes.


As with all other aspects of human life, habits dictate what type of firefighters we are. Here's a look at three habits great firefighters share and those who want to be great aspire to develop.


1. The Habit of Training

My personal mantra is that every day is training day. Every day we have the opportunity and the responsibility to fulfill our ability and calling to be the best firefighter and leader we can be.


Every day we have a choice to do something that will take our skills and career to the next level. Every day we can build upon our foundation to be ready when the moment comes when we are called upon.

Every day we get to live out this awesome calling of being a firefighter. There are never two identical fires and there are no two days that are identical. There are patterns and similarities, but we never know exactly what can happen at any given moment.


So great firefighters have the habit of taking every opportunity to train. Training includes practicing skills on the training ground and around the firehouse. It also includes reading articles, listening to podcasts, taking classes, reading fire service and leadership books, reviewing case studies of close calls and LODDs, taking care of our bodies and more.


Firefighters need so many skills that we cannot waste any moments we have to train, otherwise we will limit our potential. So make every moment count. Train like your life depends on it, because it does. Train often like your big one is coming next week, because it just may.


2. The Habit of Teaching 

We've all heard that all-too-familiar expression, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." This maybe true for some, but great firefighters and leaders know the truth. Those who can, do and teach those that can't, so that those that can't, can.


True mastery of a subject comes from doing and teaching. That's because doing something with near flawless expertise takes a deep level of understanding. But passing that skill on to others takes an even deeper level of understanding, which is mastery.


There are so many challenges to transferring knowledge, skills and abilities to others. Among them, students will challenge you with questions and scenarios that you have not foreseen.


This in turn will challenge you to go deeper into the subject and solve these challenges. And that, of course, is how you master the subject. That mastery will be the return on your investment of doing and teaching.

Great firefighters know this and therefore are always looking to teach and train others.


3. The Habit of Being Prepared

This is common sense because the fire service makes its living on being prepared. We train and prepare for scenarios that others don't. That is why they call us: to help them out of a problem they are unprepared to resolve.


We have prepared with the right equipment, personnel and training. We have contingency plans with contingency plans. We have mutual-aid agreements and access to additional resources so we are prepared for whatever happens.


With all this indoctrinated in us, how can someone not be prepared? How can a firefighter be late? How can a firefighter not have a change of clothes?


There are times that we don't carry our skills and training into our personal lives. Great firefighters and leaders use those same skills in their personal life so that they are always prepared for whatever is thrown at them.


I have multiple ways for making sure I am up and early to work. I have multiple sitters on call for taking care of my children, multiple bags of clothes and a little stash of money just in case.


In fact, my wife told me that it's a little ridiculous to have an emergency fund for my emergency fund for my emergency fund. Yes, that's three emergency funds. But, I told her, we never know. We could get hit with a three banger and I want to be prepared.


Great firefighters have the habit of being prepared. Yes, it is a habit. It is a choice that we make and then continue doing it to make it a habit in all areas of our life. This includes being prepared for work as well as our finances. It includes our family arrangements, our cars and our health.


Which of these three habits do you do? Which one if any are you going to implement in the next 30 days?


Military vets train to become wildland firefighters

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Durango Herald


HESPERUS, Colo. — One of the most difficult challenges for servicemen leaving the military is the re-assimilation into civilian life. However, a small organization in Hesperus is making a big impact.

"It's hard to go from having so much power as a soldier — what you’re able to do given your job," said Zachary Dancy, who served six years in the Army National Guard, spending two years as a medic in Afghanistan. "Then going into the civilian world where you might be working at Wal-Mart. To become a civilian again is almost impossible."


Dancy, 31, is now in his second year as a crew leader for the Southwest Conservation Corps program that trains recently released military veterans to become wildland firefighters. On Tuesday, he ushered in the graduation of 10 new members. "A lot of these guys are just coming off of deployment,” Dancy said. “I’ve seen firsthand this program work to help them re-acclimate."

Pump Operations: 6-Step Troubleshoot

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

By Randy Nelson - FireEngineering


To ensure success at the pump panel, you can take just six simple steps. I was taught this incredibly simple and seemingly foolproof approach to pump operations as a young engineer in the United States Air Force. If you understand how each step affects pump operations, you can use the steps to troubleshoot most problems.Generally, the six steps to be followed, in this order, are the following: 1. Engage the pump; 2. Water in; 3. Water out; 4. Calculate or determine pressure; 5. Throttle up; and 6. Set the relief valve. We will look at each step and discuss the issues you may encounter if you omit one of the steps or perform it incorrectly.

New law drops age restriction for volunteer firefighters

Wednesday, November 2, 2015

By FireRescue1 Staff


OKLAHOMA CITY — Thanks to a law that took effect Nov. 1, volunteer fire departments in Oklahoma will be able to recruit new volunteer firefighters over the age of 45. reported that a new law, spearheaded by State Rep. Mike Sanders, eliminates an age limit that was put in place to address a pension problem. The new law gives volunteers the option to join without a joining the pension program.


"Basically, the law was keeping people from serving just because the state didn’t want to pay a pension for someone starting their firefighting career at 45; it just didn’t work," said Rep. Sanders. "But there were men and women who would like to serve, even if it had to be without a pension. So, this law just opens that door to them. The men and women I talked to said that they already had pensions and that they were looking to serve and didn’t need to be part of the pension system."


State Sen. AJ Griffin, who carried the bill in the Senate, said rural communities rely on volunteer firefighters.


"Our rural communities in particular rely on the service of volunteer firefighters. Not only do these courageous men and women save lives and property from fires, they are also first-responders in a host of other emergency situations, including tornadoes, flooding, and ice storms," said Sen. Griffin. "Removing this unnecessary restriction will enable more Oklahomans to serve their friends and neighbors in communities throughout our state."


Officials hope the new law will help address a nationwide decrease in the number of volunteer firefighters

Medics help man with injury, finish his yard work

Friday, October 29, 2015

By EMS1 Staff


ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Two Mehlville paramedics are being recognized for going above and beyond for a man who fell off a ladder and broke his leg.


The man was cleaning the leaves from his roof and gutter when he fell, Fox 2 Now reported.

After medics John Grass and Matt Runge transported him to the hospital, they went back to the man’s house to finish the cleaning the gutters.


"He had a pretty bad injury.  We thought 'hey, let’s go back there, finish the job, finish doing his leaves for him' and give him a little surprise when he came home," said Runge.


An off-duty firefighter who was driving by stopped to help.


"We ran out of bags. One of the off-duty guys saw us working and brought over a tarp and trailer and made it easier … just in time too, because we caught another call right when we were finishing up," Grass said.

Mehlville Fire Protection District Chief Brian Hendricks said the members of the department are known for more than saving lives.

Alcohol-Fueled Violence Against Responders on Rise

Thursday, October 28, 2015

By FireHouse.Com News


A recent UK study shows people under the influence of alcohol are causing issues for responders, who don't feel they are prepared to deal with them.


"Perhaps the most shocking finding of our survey was how widespread drunken physical, sexual and verbal abuse of emergency services staff is. Again, police and ambulance crews suffer the worst. Three quarters of police respondents, and half of ambulance respondents, had been injured in alcohol-related incidents. Between a third and a half of all service people had suffered sexual harassment or abuse at the hands of intoxicated members of the public," authors of the Institute of Alcohol Studies wrote.


"Ambulance staff were particularly at risk, with 51% reporting sexually-related incidents, but the numbers were concerningly high across all services. This has created a culture of fear in the emergency services, particularly for those out on the streets. 78% of police feel at risk of drunken assaults, compared to 65% of ambulance staff. But even Emergency Department Consultants within hospitals believe themselves to be in danger, with 35% concerned about the possibility of physical attack," they concluded . . .

Ohio fire chief describes being held hostage

Friday, October 23, 2015

By By FireRescue1 Staff


AMHERST TOWNSHIP, Ohio — An assistant fire chief who was held hostage at gunpoint during a brush fire call said he never feared for his life.


WKYC reported that Assistant Chief Dennis Hevener, with the South Amherst (Ohio) Fire Department, said the man who took them hostage pointed a rifle at him and two others.


"We just kept asking him, 'What can we do for all of us to just walk away from this?'" Hevener said. "'What do we have to do to walk out of here?' He said, 'Give me a beer. It's all I want, is a beer. I want one more beer before we leave.'"


The suspect, Roy Griffith, Jr., was burning the leaves that led to the 911 calls. His mother said he has a history of mental illness, was drinking for days and was off his medication.

Chief Hevener said he never feared for his life.


"Really wasn't," he said. "I mean the whole time he was never aggressive towards us."

He also recognized Griffith from high school but had not seen him in 35 years.


Sturgis VFD won't bill Full Throttle Saloon owner for services

Thursday, October 20, 2015

By Deb Holland

Meade County Times-Tribune


STURGIS | The Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department is giving the owner of the Full Throttle Saloon quite a bargain.The department's bill for fighting the Sept. 8 fire that gutted the popular rally venue outside of the city could have topped $6,000; instead, the department's Board of Directors recently decided to ask Ballard for only $320, the cost of the fuel Sturgis fire trucks used while fighting the fire.About a week after the fire that destroyed the saloon, Ballard told the Rapid City Journal the cause was a malfunctioning electrical cord.Sturgis VFD Chief Tom Trigg said on Monday he would compose a letter asking that Ballard reimburse the department for the $320."We won't send him a bill per se," Trigg said. "We are asking for a donation. We are going to tell him what we incurred and ask that we are reimbursed. It's unsure whether we will get a response or not."”


Spearfish grappling with need for new fire department

Thursday, October 01, 2015

By Tom Griffith

Rapid City Journal


SPEARFISH | In the wake of the mass resignation of its entire volunteer fire department, effective Jan. 31, 2016, Spearfish city officials are grappling with how they will provide fire protection services in the future.

Citing exhaustion from a lack of volunteers willing to provide future leadership, and frustration from ongoing battles with the city over adequate funding, the Spearfish Volunteer Fire Department announced Tuesday that it will disband in January after 134 years of service to the community.


In an open letter to Spearfish residents, Fire Chief Taylor Custis and President Janette Hettick said the department would dissolve because it “cannot find a leader who is willing to be chief.”


While the department had a number of interested firefighters at the beginning of the year, ensuing legal and political battles had led them to decline the position of chief, the letter stated. In addition, the department lacked qualified individuals interested in assuming other leadership roles such as assistant chief, president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.


The department’s volunteer numbers have been declining for five years, and rapidly decreased last year, Custis and Hettick stated. With a current roster of 37 members, the department could support 63, they said. Finally, ongoing battles with the city over establishing a fire district capable of assessing taxes and the city’s commitment to the department had left its members drained, Custis and Hettick stated.

“We have been worn down and are exhausted,” they wrote.


Tears and frustration


Hettick, who has been with the fire department for 13 years, seven as its president, said the decision to dissolve the volunteer organization was as tough as it gets, but all of the members were committed to helping establish a new, viable fire department.  


“This was the hardest decision that we have ever made while I’ve been on the department,” Hettick said. “Certainly there were tears and there were really more words of frustration than anger. But the fire department is like a family, which is the most endearing part of it to all of us.

“I think any citizen who sat in on those meetings would have been proud to see people who really care about each other and the citizens we protect,” she added. “We tried to make the best decision possible. We’re not throwing our hoses down and going home. We’re going to work together and try to find a solution that benefits everyone.”  


Mayor Dana Boke said this week that the city understood firefighters’ frustrations, as well as their long-term commitment to the community.


“The decision made to shut down this volunteer organization is heart-wrenching considering the many, many, many firefighters who represent both our past and our present,” Boke said. “There have been generations of firefighters; fathers and sons who served. This action should not diminish their service in any way.”


The mayor said she was confident that city and Lawrence County officials, working with surrounding towns and local volunteers who want to continue serving as firefighters, could create a new department before the Jan. 31 deadline.

“There will be no lapse in fire protection,” Boke said. “Surrounding communities have already stepped up to provide any support we may need.”


Nation nears wildfire record with more than 9 million acres burned

Friday, September 25, 2015

BY Doyle Rice

USA Today


The amount of land burned by wildfires in the U.S. this year has surpassed 9 million acres, according to data released Thursday by the National Interagency Fire Center.

This is only the fourth time on record the country has reached the 9 million-acre mark, center spokesman Randall Eardley said in an e-mail. The area burned is roughly equivalent to the size of New Jersey and Connecticut combined. 


All of the top years for acres burned have occurred since 2000, Eardley said. The worst year occurred in 2006, with 9.8 million acres. In 2007 and 2012, 9.3 million acres were burned, he said. If another 800,000 acres are burned this year, an all-time record would be set.


Nation nears wildfire record with more than 9 million acres burned

Accurate wildfire records go back to 1960. Prior to 2000, the U.S. surpassed 7 million acres only one time — in 1963. "The year 2000 seems to have been a turning point in the number of acres we've seen burned," Eardley said.

El Nino To Remain Strong Into Next Spring

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan


Thanks to the El Nino weather system, look for warmer, drier conditions than normal this winter.
That’s the word from both South Dakota and Illinois meteorologists.

El Nino will continue to play a significant role in North America’s climate for the next several months, according to the latest temperature and precipitation outlooks, released Thursday by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"The current El Nino is forecast to increase in intensity through the winter season," said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist, in a news release.

"As a result, this fall we will continue to see the impacts of the warm tropical Pacific Ocean on our climate in the U.S.," she said.

With a strong El Nino, expect warmer conditions in the coming months, Edwards said.
"NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for September and the season ahead indicate a typical El Nino pattern, with warmer than average conditions expected in the west and southeast," she said.

For South Dakota, Edwards said that this should mean near average temperatures throughout the month of September.

"An area south of South Dakota - expanding from the Four Corners to the Great Lakes - is forecast to be cooler than average in September. This region just touches southern South Dakota in the updated maps."
Due to the projected El Nino, a large area of the nation is leaning toward wetter than average conditions in September, said South Dakota state climatologist Dennis Todey in a news release,

The highest likelihood focused over the southwest, expanding eastward into the Great Plains, said Todey, an SDSU Extension climate specialist.

"This area also reaches just into the southern counties of South Dakota," he said. "Based on historical data from recent decades, during historical El Nino events, September does not show a strong tendency toward either wetter or drier conditions.

Looking ahead to the months of September, October and November, the area forecast to be cooler than average is restricted to the Southern Plains, Todey said.

"Much of the Northern Plains and Midwest region, including South Dakota, is projected to have equal chances of temperatures that are near above, below or near average," he said.

Looking down the line, El Nino looks to create a warmer and drier winter, said Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel during a national conference call.

"El Nino will probably stay strong at the top of the charts all the way through December, January and February, and then taper off," he said. "But it still stays at about 70 percent chance in March, April and May."
That translates into a warmer, drier winter, Angel said.

"For December, January and February, during the core winter months, there is an increased chance of above average temperatures through the central United States," he said.


Firefighters killed near Twisp: ‘three big heroes protecting small towns’

August 21, 2015

Seattle Times staff


Officials said the firefighters had been involved in a vehicle accident and that the crew was apparently overtaken by the blaze they had been battling.


One was a 20-year-old physics student and theater fan, another a former starting right tackle with a master’s degree. The oldest and most experienced had just graduated from college with a degree in natural resources and was planning a career in public-land management.

All were seasonal firefighters working for the U.S. Forest Service when they perished Wednesday in a firestorm on a sun-baked hillside near Twisp, Okanogan County. Their names: Tom Zbyszewski, Andrew Zajac and Richard Wheeler.

The Forest Service has released little information about what happened to the firefighters and four others who were injured except to say that a vehicle accident may have prevented them from fleeing a fast-moving wildfire that had turned on them on Woods Canyon Road.

A fourth crew member, 25-year-old Daniel Lyon, of Puyallup, was in critical condition Thursday at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center with third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body. Three other firefighters who were in the area were treated for minor injuries, and at least one of them has returned to the fireline, officials said Thursday.


Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said the dead and injured firefighters were part of the same initial-attack crew.


It was the worst fatal wildfire incident in Washington since four firefighters were killed in the Thirtymile fire in the nearby Chewuch River Canyon in July 2001.


Rogers, whose office was processing the scene of the deaths Thursday, declined to say whether any of the dead or injured had deployed their emergency fire shelters. The Forest Service has called in a national Incident Management Team to investigate the deaths.


When a Washington fire chief called for help, and no one was left

August 19, 2015

By Matt Pearce – Los Angeles Times


As the flames drew closer, the fire chief called and called for help. But three other major wildfires were burning in Stevens County, Wash., and no one was left to respond.


Whipped by 40- to 50-mph winds, the new blaze on the Spokane Reservation sent up a column of smoke as it churned north toward a rural community of about 2,000 people east of the Columbia River.


The only thing that stood in the way: Stevens County Fire District 2 Chief Rick Anderson and his crew of volunteers.


See the most-read stories this hour >>


For almost 24 hours, Anderson and 11 other firefighters fought the blaze alone, with pickup trucks carrying 300-gallon water tanks.


It was a costly and deeply personal battle waged on home turf, with two firefighters battling to save their parents’ home, another defending his in-laws’ house, and another losing 120 acres of timber to the flames.


Anderson watched the flames cross a road named for his grandfather and counted even more personal losses.


The fire near Fruitland started Friday night and remained out of control Tuesday afternoon, threatening houses. It also threatened to add to the mounting toll of destruction from one of Washington's worst wildfire summers in recent memory -- one so severe that firefighting crews across the West have hit their limits as they battle fire after fire for days on end, only to see more blazes erupt.


"Typically, when we have this number of fires, we can draw on folks around the nation," said Koshare Eagle, a spokeswoman for the Northwest Coordination Center in Portland, which oversees firefighting efforts in Washington and Oregon.


The problem, Eagle said Tuesday, is that "the other geographic regions are also trying to draw on folks around the nation."


Anderson was about to learn how bad things were.


First, he called surrounding fire agencies for help. They were already overwhelmed by other wildfires.


"Nobody came," he said.


Next, he called the county.


"Nobody came," said Anderson, 60, who has been a firefighter in Stevens County since he was 18 and also works as a communications specialist for the sheriff's office.


Then he called the Washington Department of Natural Resources. 


"They had nobody to come help us," he said. 


U.S. wildfires scorch land at dramatic rate, but then there's the Alaska factor

Finally, Anderson called state emergency management, asking that Washington state declare a mobilization to provide support for the fire.


The good news: "That was immediately granted."


The bad news: "There was nobody to send me."

FDNY firefighter shot twice, shooter dead after standoff

The 54-year-old firefighter was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition

Aug 14, 2015


The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang who was to be arrested on parole violations when he shot a firefighter responding to a call of smoke coming from his girlfriend's home died Friday in a gunfight with police after a six-hour standoff, two police officials said.

Garland Tyree, who had been communicating with police negotiators, ascended the basement stairs of a two-family Staten Island home firing an assault rifle at around noon, the police officials told The Associated Press. Police also fired shots, though it wasn't immediately clear if Tyree killed himself or was felled by police bullets, the officials said.


The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't permitted to discuss the case ahead of a mayoral press conference, scheduled for 1:30 p.m.


A U.S. Marshals task force had attempted to arrest Tyree, 38, for violating federal parole when smoke emerged from his girlfriend's apartment, said Robert Boyce, New York Police Department chief of detectives.Firefighters were responding to the scene when Tyree opened fire, striking a fire lieutenant in the left calf and buttocks, Boyce said. The lieutenant is in stable condition at a hospital.


Before the deadly gunfight that resulted in Tyree's death, he had fired four shots, including two at police that didn't hit anyone, police said. He had been previously convicted of weapons, drug and assault charges.

Members of his family and his girlfriend also communicated with police during the standoff, Boyce said.

An attorney for Tyree declined to comment. But a lawyer who represented him on a 2004 federal weapons conviction for which he was sentenced to 10 years said Tyree was "a really smart young man who's never caught a break."


"He managed to turn everything good that came his way into something bad, which is what happens when you grow up in a crack-infested environment," Susan G. Kellman said.

Tyree had been arrested 18 times and had been on probation since last summer, Boyce said. He was on supervised release following a 2013 conviction of violating federal probation by using drugs, associating with known gang members and convicted felons, court papers show.


A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Brooklyn declined to comment.

Hill City Firefighter Dies in Motorcycle Accident

HILL CITY | James Anthony “Jim” Peterson, age 56, died Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, as a result of an accident. Jim was born June 26, 1959, in Woonsocket to Darwin and Darlene (Goergen) Peterson.


He graduated from Castlewood High School and attended SDSU in Brookings where he met his wife, Joy. Jim and Joy (Alexander) were united in marriage July 2, 1988, in Mitchell and had two sons, AJ and Mitchell.

Jim was employed full time by the South Dakota Army National Guard for the majority of his career, retiring in March of 2015. Jim began his career as an enlisted Private and through dedication and commitment to his country proceeded to earn the commissioned rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


Hunting was a passion of Jim’s and he loved spending time with friends and family hunting pheasants near his hometown. Jim was committed to community service and was proud to be a part of the Hill City Volunteer Fire Department and the Hill City Fire District, logging countless hours fighting forest fires. He served on the Hill City Planning and Zoning board and was active in St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. Jim was an avid golfer, a racquetball player, and a member of a pool league since he was a freshman in college.

Jim and his wife, Joy, have owned the Chute Rooster in Hill City for six years and customers and employees enjoyed seeing Jim’s smiling face. As a season ticket holder for the Rush, Jim considered every fellow fan his friend and rarely missed a game.


He is survived by his wife, Joy; sons, AJ and Mitchell, Hill City; father, Darwin Peterson, Alexandria; sisters, Theresa (Tom) Culver, Avon; Mary (Duane) Letcher, Alexandria; brother, Dan, Sioux Falls; brother-in-law, Victor (Sherryl) Alexander, Hill City; sisters-in-law, Debora (Kevin) Carlson, Peoria, AZ; Sheila (Leon) Gillespie, Hill City; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother.

In honor of Jim, memorials may be made to the Hill City Volunteer Fire Department and Hill City Community Park Project.

Firefighter killed while scouting ways to battle wind-fueled Northern California wildfire

Associated Press - Aug. 1, 2015 | 7:55 p.m. EDT



SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A firefighter evaluating a Northern California wildfire was killed by the erratic, wind-stoked blaze while he was surveying an area to decide the best way for crews to handle the flames, a U.S. Forest Service official said Saturday.


Forest Service firefighter David Ruhl, 38, was in a vehicle in the Modoc National Forest and would have been scouting for ways to suppress the fire when crews lost contact with him Thursday evening, Forest Service spokesman Ken Sandusky said.


Officials said they couldn't immediately say whether Ruhl had time to let others know by radio that he was in trouble, or whether flames overtook him too fast to call for help. His body was recovered Friday.


An investigation has begun to determine exactly what happened and whether there are any lessons to be learned from Ruhl's death, Forest Service spokeswoman Heather Noel said.


"We owe that not only to the family and to the friends and to the employees that worked with Dave, but we also owe it to the agency and the rest of the firefighters, so that whatever did happen won't be repeated if possible," she said.


Ruhl lived in Rapid City, South Dakota, with his wife and two children, who are devastated, said Scott Jacobson, Ruhl's co-worker and a spokesman for the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota.


"He was a great husband, a great father and a great employee," Jacobson said. "He was loved by everybody."


Rapid City firefighter escorted home

Sean Ryan, Rapid City Journal staff. August 6, 2015


The remains of Rapid City firefighter David “Dave” Ruhl were escorted home Thursday night by area firefighters, law enforcement and community members. Ruhl, 38, died July 31 while scouting a fire at the Modoc National Forest in Adin, Calif. He is the first Black Hills National Forest firefighter to die in the line of duty according to Scott Jacobson, BHNF public affairs officer. Ruhl was a firefighter with the Black Hills National Forest Mystic Ranger District.

Wildfires decimate U.S. Forest Service budget

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY 8:28 a.m. PDT August 6, 2015


Costs to battle massive, explosive wildfires have decimated the budget of the U.S. Forest Service charged with fighting the blazes, according to a new report released Wednesday.


For the first time in its 110-year history, the U.S. Forest Service says it spends more than 50% of its annual budget on firefighting at the expense of other programs to prevent the infernos.


Just 20 years ago, firefighting made up 16% of the annual budget for the Forest Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


"This is a five-alarm fire," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "You're no longer the forest service, you're a fire department."

© 2017 Silver City VFD

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