Clearwater Twp. Fire Dept. In Need Of Volunteer Firefighters

Several fire departments fought that fire in Rapid City.

In fact, it took 18 volunteers to do the job.

“Ten years ago we would have had 12 people here.  This morning we only had six people here,” said Chief Jeff West.

And Chief Jeff West says that scenario is not unusual when his department is dispatched to a fire.

They are constantly asking other departments to assist.

“Fire doubles every 30 seconds, so if it takes you seven miles to drive there— that fire can become a potential big problem,” said Chief West.

Chief West says ten years ago, his department had more than 20 available volunteer fire fighters.

Today, he only has 13 on his roster.

“People don’t have the time to volunteer,” said Chief West. “The mandating, education and training takes a lot of time. Volunteers have to accomplish hundreds of hours in their first couple years on the job.”

This time of year, it’s especially challenging.

“In the winter, the snow slows everything down. It can take twice as long to do the job,” said Chief West.

But safety is always the number one priority.

“If I’m going to send someone in– I have to have someone there as back up to rescue them if something happens. I also need extra teams standing by,” said Chief West.

And the work doesn’t stop after leaving a scene.

“I have to ask them to stay and do this paperwork. I have to stay ask them to put the trucks back in shape in case we get another call within a half hour of getting back to the station,” said Chief West.