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.

However, this isn’t something that’s out of the ordinary for this department.

“January we’ve seen that a couple of years before, we saw a spike about the same time of the year, up to that 75, so it’s just an anomaly, but it does happen,” Colby said.

While a lot of the calls are for medical assistance rather than fires, it still can take a toll on the firefighters.

“The toughest part is you’re on for 24-hours shifts so calls can go on all through the night so you can have a full day of working on the ambulance helping people, assisting people, and you can be up for most of the night as well, especially on busy days,” Firefighter/EMT Dana Mellegard said. 

Yet having a staff ready to go is what keeps them up to pace.

“When there’s a busy day, busier than normal, we have six staff frontline ambulances, and then we also have additional backup ambulances.  A lot of times we have other people come off of fire trucks that are assigned to a firetruck and then they will get on a backup ambulance and go on those medical calls,” Mellegard said.

Colby says this isn’t the only time of year they are busy; typically during the Sturgis rally at the beginning of August, the number of calls pick up. She also expects there will be about 1,000 more calls than last year.