Eye On KELOLAND: Keeping fire station history in Rapid City

Eye on KELOLAND

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Visit downtown Rapid City and you’ll likely pass by The Firehouse Brewery and Winery. What you may not know is that years ago the restaurant was actually the Rapid City Fire Station that is now located just a few blocks away.

Before 1975, the Rapid City Fire Department was stationed right here on Main Street. The Firehouse Brewery has since taken its place. But while it may look like a lot has changed, the feeling and history remain.

“We wanted to keep a very historical perspective on this firehouse so we kept it a lot in tact and it’s been really great. People love coming in and seeing a lot of the way it used to be,” Bob Fuchs, owner of Firehouse Brewery and Winery, said.

This fire station was built in 1915. Some of the items that were in the fire station are still here today. Like the original fire pole.

“People really appreciated the fact that we kept the building very intact with the outside, the metal ceiling inside, and where the garage doors were. The trucks used to come out, so the whole 9 yards came together really well and we’ve had a great time here for 28 years now,” Fuchs said.

The badges on the wall come from all over the world, each represents a different department.

“We give them one of our patches and they give us one of their patches so we have quite a few patches now,” Fuchs said.

So not only does the Firehouse serve drinks and food, it also gives customers an experience, especially Rapid City Firefighters.

“As a Rapid City born and raised kid, being a Rapid City firefighter is all I wanted to do when I was young. I think it’s awesome that we have this piece of history and it’s been preserved the way that it has been,” Jim Bussell, Rapid City firefighter, said.

Many different pictures, badges, and old fire gadgets are displayed inside and outside of the building.

“My career started in 2004, so this building had long since been changed and hasn’t been a fire station since the 70’s, but there is still this immense amount of pride when you come down here and you see where it says the Rapid City Fire Department on the front,” Bussell said.

Jeff Bauer is quite the historian for the local fire department. He dedicates much of his time to finding and researching artifacts like these.

“I think by me doing the research and keeping up on that, that’s something to pass along so when my time is to leave here is that knowledge won’t be lost,” Jeff Bauer, Rapid City Firefighter, said.

Both Bussell and Bauer say that tradition is something very important to their crews.

“The fire department as you know is more of a family and for the firefighters that served before us, we remember them and it goes back decades. And by keeping that stuff, it grounds us,” Bauer said.

“Mr. Fuchs and the Firehouse staff have done an amazing job of not only preserving the history but making us feel included and keeping Rapid City Fire Department memorabilia around. It’s a huge deal to us,” Bussell said.

And a huge deal to the city’s future firefighters.

“We have generations still to this day that are working at the fire department now that their fathers worked in this building, and it makes me really proud when I hear my youngest son say, ‘yeah that’s what I want to do,” Bussell said.

“But it’s really fun when people come in have a beer with us, sit and visit and we really enjoy telling them about the building and what’s been going on here for the last hundred and some years,” Fuchs said.

The Firehouse Brewery and Restaurant has another location in Hill City.

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