RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Volunteer Fire Departments across South Dakota will be receiving money for personal protective equipment after House Bill 11-27 was signed by Governor Noem last week.
In order for firefighters to do their work, they need to be protected.
“If we are not properly protected how are we supposed to do our jobs for others. If we are getting too hot or if our gear is not working up to par for our job, then we are putting ourselves at risk and taking ourselves out of the action to help others,” Capt. Sean Weber, Black Hawk VFD, said.
All of this equipment behind me is about $4,100 altogether. Including a helmet, pants, boots, and a coat.
That is not including wildland fire equipment.
“Our gear is only good for ten years for some parts of it and 5 years for others so we are constantly buying new things for new members and even older firefighters have to constantly have new things bought,” Capt. Weber said.
House Bill 1127 would allocate $5 million in funds to the South Dakota Firefighters Association which would be distributed to Volunteer Fire Departments that apply.
“It is just going to be such a shot in the arm, we are hoping for some of those departments that just can’t afford to go spend 20, 30-thousand dollars on new PPE as we call it, personal protective equipment,” Dennis Gorton, SD Firefighters Association, said.
With nearly 350 volunteer fire departments in the State and at least 15 firefighters at each station, the cost of good equipment gets expensive.
“The key part to this is, is it is going to give some of those departments a good opportunity to upgrade their equipment and get good quality stuff to protect their volunteer firefighters,” Gorton said.
Over 95% of fire departments in South Dakota are volunteer. Over 70% of departments in the nation are volunteer.