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Rapid City Fire Department sends crew to Minnesota-Canada border

RCFD crew members in Tower. The small crew are using a single vehicle during their assignment
RCFD crew members in Tower. The small crew are using a single vehicle during their assignment

A crew of Rapid City firefighters are being assigned to the Minnesota-Canada border in supporting roles. As smoke from Canadian wildfires blanket the country – particularly the Northeast – fire departments sharing resources is as important as ever.

The Rapid City Fire Department crew is on a severity assignment near the small northern Minnesota town of Tower.

RCFD division chief Brian Povandra explained their role.

“Minnesota is pre-positioning resources in case there is a large fire there, they’re in drought conditions and have high fire danger," Povandra said. "Our crews up there as one of a handful that are pre-positioned in the area, so if a fire does break out, they have a quick response for that area.”

Povandra said inter-agency cooperation like this happens at home and far away.

“We mutual aid, auto-aid, to many of the departments around in the county here, but that goes statewide and even national," Povandra said. "Our wildland resources have gone all the way to California and Florida for assignments when there’s large fires, and this is just another opportunity for us to get our men and women out and get some experience for them.”

But he said the community is never short-handed.

“The only time we send resources out is when we have enough staffing here to handle the city and the calls that are generated in our primary district, so we feel comfortable letting a few people go," Povandra said. "That way if we do have a large incident here, we can rely on the experiences they had, or they’ve gained on these assignments.”

The RCFD is reimbursed for deployments like these, and they come at no cost to the taxpayer.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture