Welcome to the Fort Pierre Volunteer Fire Department
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A proud tradition of serving our community
Members researching the fire department’s history have found records of the fire department back to 1904. Fort Pierre has been a community since the early 1800's, and was one of the first white settlements in South Dakota during the fur trading and Lewis & Clark days; however, it is not clear when the fire department was organized.
The Fort Pierre Fire Department is responsible for fire protection in the City of Fort Pierre and most of the rural portions of Stanley County, South Dakota, including Tribal lands and National Grasslands areas. Stanley County has 904,960 total land acres. The city limits, population around 2,100, is about 3 square miles in area. Rural Stanley County, population approximately 800, has an area of 1,443 square miles. The Four Corners Fire Department (Hayes, SD, 30 miles west of Fort Pierre) responds to fires in a portion of western Stanley County and northeastern Haakon County, but it is still common for the Fort Pierre Fire Department to respond 60, 70 or more miles each way to calls.
The Fort Pierre Fire Department responds to an average of 50 to 80 emergency calls annually.
Fire Department History
There have been a handful of fire stations in Fort Pierre throughout the years.
Through records and stories from older folks, the first known main station was in downtown Fort Pierre adjacent to the Rowe building, which is known today as Diamond D Saddle Shop. It was very simple and very small - about enough space to store one truck and a little equipment.
At the same time, Station #2 was on the south side of the Bad River on Wandel Avenue, about 1/2 block west of present-day Highway 83. This wasn't a large, organized building; it was merely a shed that stored a hose cart and extra supplies. If the need arose when apparatus or manpower couldn’t get to the south side, at least the hose cart was available.
The first "real" station was eventually built in downtown Fort Pierre. The brick building had 2 truck bays, a small shop and work area, indoor plumbing, and a meeting area that was shared by other organizations. The trucks that were inside were literally bumper-to-bumper, plus a couple trucks that sat out behind the station in the open. The department outgrew this space in the early to mid-1970s, but the building still stands and currently houses West Side Paint and Body, across from the Chuck Wagon Café.
At this time, the department, led by Fire Chief Richard "Bud" Gould, began planning for a new facility. Chief Gould went out and found some loan programs; proposed the idea to the city and county commissioners; and worked his way up to getting the blessing of the city and county fathers to proceed with the construction of a new building. The fire station was erected in 1977-78. At that time, the building cost $225,000.
At the time, some considered the station too big, but Chief Gould’s vision has served us well - we are still here today. There are 8 full truck bays, a large shop area, storage rooms, dedicated communications room, Chief’s office, restrooms on both levels, and a large meeting room with a full kitchen.
The station also houses a large backup generator so that in case the city power were to go out, the department can still function properly. It can also serve as a shelter for members of the public in an emergency.
Today, the station has "shrunk" quite a bit. With 11 trucks and 38 firefighters on the roster, it gets very cozy to say the least! The department has a committee that is monitoring space needs for the future.
The following are the known fire chiefs and the years that they served. Although we do not have a complete record, we wish to honor all the officers who have led our department.
Frank O'Reilly - 1917 to 1930
Norman Pugh - 1930 to 1948
Quentin Sutley - 1949 to 1956
Robert "Bud" Cronin - 1956
Glen Whitney - 1957
Robert "Bob" Boyd - 1957 to 1968
Richard "Bud" Gould - 1968 to 1978
Harold "Butch" Deneui - 1978 to 1982
Tom Vandersnick - 1982 to 1984
Robert "Buddy" Cronin, Jr. - 1984 to 1990
Richard "Butch" Jacobsen - 1990 to 1992
John Rajdl - 1992 to 1994
Larry Cronin - 1994 to 1996
Rick Cronin - 1996 to 2003
Carl Rathbun - 2003 to 2006
Rick Cronin - 2006
Joe Meligan - 2007
Eric Paul - January-July 2008
Rick Cronin - July 2008 to 2010
Cody Lengkeek - 2011
Rick Cronin - 2012 to 2014
Cody Lengkeek - 2015 to 2016
Justin Jones - 2016 to Present
Firefighters of the Year
The members started the Firefighter of the Year award in the early 1980's to recognize a member that went above and beyond. This is a very prestigious award for us, and we would like to express our gratitude to each awardee for their service and dedication.
John Goehring - 1984
Galen Stoeser - 1985
Bud Gould - 1986
Rick Cronin - 1988
Gordy Paul - 1989
Mark Goehring - 1990
John Rajdl - 1991
Rick Cronin - 1992
Larry Cronin - 1993
Butch Jacobsen - 1994
Perry Longbrake - 1995
John Rajdl - 1996
Jim Gillaspie - 1997
Jeff Baker - 1998
Joe Meligan - 1999
Buddy Cronin - 2000
Dan Wagner - 2001
Shane Cronin - 2002
Bryan Caldwell - 2003
Eric Paul - 2004
Bryan Caldwell - 2005
Joe Meligan - 2006
Mark Menning - 2007
Buddy Cronin - 2008
updates coming soon
The Fort Pierre Fire Department is a member of the South Dakota Firefighter's Association