Ten weeks after the Spearfish Volunteer Fire Department members voted to resign en masse, the city and Lawrence County are poised to create a city department that will blend a paid fire chief and administrative staff with volunteer firefighters.
Citing exhaustion, the rigors of fundraising and an inability to attract new volunteer leadership, a majority of the 134-year-old Spearfish Volunteer Fire Department, one of the oldest in western South Dakota, voted to disband, effective Jan. 31, 2016. In the wake of that Sept. 29 action, the Spearfish City Council authorized Mayor Dana Boke to appoint a Fire Department Advisory Task Force.
Boke named a 10-member team that included several local volunteer firefighters, former Spearfish Fire Chief Stuart Williams, Spearfish Police Chief Pat Rotert, Rapid City Fire Chief Mike Maltaverne, Lawrence County Emergency Manager Paul Thomson, and Lawrence County Commissioner Randall Rosenau, among others. After meeting three times in October and November, the findings of the task force were presented Monday night to the Spearfish City Council by firefighter and task force member Adam Zeigler.
Zeigler told the council it was the task force’s unanimous recommendation to create a new Spearfish Fire Department, “which would be a distinct city department,” led by three full-time paid employees of the city of Spearfish. Such posts would include a fire chief and two command/support staff employees with titles and duties to be determined by the chief.