The Rapid Valley Volunteer Fire Department was organized in October of 1966. The Pennington County Board of Commissioners recognized the organization on October 14 th . T.R “Slim” Ireland was selected as the first Fire Chief. The original building was constructed using volunteer labor and mostly donated materials, at 3199 School Drive. Its location was on the north side of Highway 44 just about where the Elk Vale overpass over Highway 44 is today.
The building was a small concrete block structure and was attached to the Rapid Valley Water Service building. The building consisted of two apparatus bays and a small restroom. Two additional truck bays each were added to the existing building twice over the years, eventually giving the department 6 bays total. In 1989, 7 acres were purchased at the intersection of Reservoir Road and East Highway 44 for the purpose of constructing a new building.
The new building was completed in 1990. It was a 80’ x 116’ Pole type construction on 5 feet of fill dirt. It had 2 single and 3 double truck bays, 3 offices, a community room, kitchen, maintenance shop, and restroom with shower facilities. This building served the department for the next 25 years. Planning for the existing building started 2011 as some major structure problems started appearing in the pole building. The Department moved into the existing building in 2015.
The department’s apparatus started out with a 1950’s 500gpm pumper, and a jeep. A 1200 gallon water “tanker” was also acquired. All three units were military surplus from the South Dakota State Forestry CM2 program. The first truck owned by the department was donated to them by Lloyd Maude.
The first new truck was purchased in 1976. It was a 1000gpm structure engine to replace the original CM2 truck. “State of the art” SCBA’s were purchased in 1976. These “30 minute” packs replaced our “15 minute” government surplus packs from the 1950’s. Today our airpack are “45 minute” high pressure packs that have a built-in thermal imagining camera in each pack which allows firefighters to do their job faster, more efficient, and safer than any time in the past.
The first call the department responded to was a fire at Jalopy Jungle, an auto salvage yard located on Highway 79 south of Rapid. The fire was in the yard of the business. The department originally responded to fire type calls. Today we respond to fire, medical, rescues, hazardous materials, to name a
few of our call types.
The membership roster has had as low as 10 members to a high of 50 members. We are always looking for new members to join. There are jobs for everyone of any ability. We are always looking for people who are willing to help out their community. Fire and medical responders, or support staff to helpout around the station and community are encouraged to join.
In 2015 college students from local schools started our Firefighter/Student Resident Program. 4 students live in the station and respond to calls during the school year. This program allows the students to learn valuable live skills while they provide incident response for the community. Our famous sourdough Pancake feed is held every October, since 1967. The event serves not only as a fund raiser for the department, but allows the department to bring together the community each year as our way to say Thank you for your support!!