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Posted on: April 9, 2021

Spearfish building off success of wildland fire program

City of Spearfish Fire Department

Full-time engine boss position created

SPEARFISH, SD – Since 2017, the City of Spearfish has hired a seasonal wildland crew to support the efforts of reducing the impacts of wildfire on communities around the U.S. and also create revenue for the Spearfish Fire Department, since crew and equipment costs are reimbursed by the agency with jurisdiction on the fire. The continued success of the program led to the creation of a full-time engine boss position to help with the goal of expanding the wildland fire program beyond seasonal status and augmenting other needs within the department.

The Spearfish City Council approved the position description and recruitment process Monday. 

Public Safety Director Pat Rotert explained that the City’s previous wildland fire program format relied on filling a seasonal engine boss position to lead firefighters while on assignment. For several years, the department has not been able to fill the position – or even see qualified candidates apply. 

“As they all want full-time employment, it’s hard to find a seasonal,” he said Monday during the City Council meeting, adding that since the seasonal engine boss position has been posted, in January, the City has not received any qualified applications.

The goal is to hire an engine boss this year. The proposed full-time position is graded at a grade 18, starting at $47,798.40. There is currently $9,000 budgeted in the Wildland Fire Fund for the unfilled seasonal engine boss position, so when factoring in benefits, the current amount budgeted, and estimated reimbursements from wildland deployments, the estimated increase annually to the budget would be approximately $34,000. An average four-year history shows the wildland fire program revenue at approximately $88,000.

The Wildland Fire Fund was established to track the revenues and expenses related to the wildland fire program. In addition to the full-time engine boss and two seasonal wildland firefighters hired, department volunteers may serve on wildland assignments if they qualify for the certifications and are available. 

Rotert described that the department always maintains resources to serve and protect its response area within the Spearfish Fire District; the wildland fire program allows personnel and equipment from Spearfish to assist with fighting wildfires around the country as requested, in the same way resources from other parts of the country assist when wildfire threatens the Black Hills, such as the 2016 Crow Peak Fire. 

The engine boss position description and application is available at

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