RAPID CITY, S.D. — It’s been the same story, different day for Volunteer Fire Departments in the Black Hills.
“Our foundation is cracked, the posts are completely rotted out on all four sides,” said Carrie Schell a current member of the Wasta and Wall Volunteer Fire Departments. “We haven’t had running water in our restrooms for the last six months. “
Deteriorating foundations, no running water and lack of space are just some challenges facing the Wasta, Scenic, Quinn and Silver City Fire Departments in their facilities. Facilities that are all at least 50-years-old.
Last week the fire departments, along with the Pennington County Fire Service, submitted a $2 million proposal for new buildings to the Pennington County Commission – asking for $500,000 each.
The problems not stopping there. Improper insulation combined with South Dakota winters are affecting operations.
Leading to frozen water pumps, and slower response time when there’s no time, or resources to waste.
“We have pumps that will freeze going to fires, we have to take those into consideration as well and a lot of times that kind of stalls to attend fires because we don’t have the sources,” said Carrie Schell, a current member of the Wasta and Wall Volunteer Fire Departments. “We can’t afford to have one truck down.”
The fire departments rely heavily on fundraisers, which aren’t helping much. The Quinn Fire Department has raised over $5,000 in the last three years, money that goes quickly.
“We got this tender this spring, that pretty much emptied our account and we’ve been raising money for about three years for that,” said Assistant Jim Johnson, of the Quinn Fire Department.
These firefighters even having to foot the bill in some cases – just to get by.
“What we raise, like this brush truck right here has got six new tires on it, that just basically covers our operating and fuel costs and there was a time that we would dig in our pockets out of our own money to buy fuel for these,” Johnson said.
A proposal raising hope among volunteer fire departments.