In a significant move to enhance the safety of volunteer firefighters, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has signed legislation that allocates $5 million to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for the purchase of individual firefighter safety equipment.
This legislative action underscores the state’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of its first responders.
The DPS State Fire Marshal’s office, in collaboration with the South Dakota Firefighters Association, has announced the availability of grant funding specifically for Volunteer Fire Departments (VFDs).
To be eligible, VFDs must have a membership comprising at least 70% unpaid and volunteer firefighters.
The grants will enable the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, coats, pants, gloves, boots, breathing apparatuses, and other essential gear.
DPS Cabinet Secretary Craig Price emphasized the importance of this initiative: “Our volunteer firefighters don’t hesitate to enter burning buildings when it’s needed to save lives and property.
They deserve to have the gear needed to protect South Dakota families and property, so they can safely return home to their own.”
The announcement comes as a response to the challenges faced by VFDs during the pandemic.
Many departments reported a significant drop in local donations, severely impacting their fundraising efforts.
This financial strain led to delays or cancellations in purchasing or replacing key equipment, including personal protective gear.
South Dakota Firefighters Association President Charles Kludt expressed his gratitude: “We’re extremely grateful to Governor Noem and our legislators for their efforts these past two years to support volunteer fire departments and firefighters.
Our job is to make sure the funds are distributed to where the need is the greatest and we’ll do just that.
We’re looking forward to it.”
Volunteer Fire Departments across South Dakota can expect to receive a paper copy of the application packet via U.S.
mail and email, facilitating their access to these critical funds.
The allocation of $5 million in grants for the purchase of personal protective equipment for South Dakota’s volunteer firefighters represents a pivotal step in bolstering the safety and efficacy of these crucial community protectors.
Volunteer firefighters are often the first line of defense in rural and suburban areas, where professional fire services may not be as readily accessible.
This funding not only acknowledges the invaluable service these volunteers provide but also addresses a crucial need that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reduction in local fundraising opportunities has left many volunteer fire departments struggling to maintain adequate safety gear, which is fundamental to their operations.
By equipping them with essential protective gear, this initiative not only ensures their safety but also enhances their capability to serve their communities effectively.
It’s a clear demonstration of the state’s commitment to supporting and safeguarding those who selflessly put their lives on the line for the safety of others.