New law provides $5 million for South Dakota volunteer fire departments

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 7:08 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - This week, Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill into law that provides $5 million for volunteer fire departments to purchase safety equipment.

South Dakota has over 300 fire departments that are 100 percent volunteer staffed. To be considered a certified volunteer fire department in the state of South Dakota, 15 people must be volunteers at that department.

Jerome Harvey, fire administrator for Rapid City. says on average, it takes around $6,000 to supply one firefighter with personal protective equipment, and this bill would supply each firefighter with around $500 worth of protective equipment.

“The ability to protect those people, to help fund what’s going on, you’re either going have to figure out how to fund that or you’ll end up paying more to fund everything. Is it a step in the right direction? Yes. Is it a good thing? Yes, as far as realizing its baby steps to help address the over all problem,” Harvey said.

Harvey said that if the state wants to keep this program in place, they will have to come up with a plan to include this in their regular funding cycles to continue helping volunteer fire departments.