Thoughts from Fire School

   As they say, “That’s a wrap”. Another state fire school is wrapped up, completed, almost put away. Well as the treasurer I have a few things to finish wrapping up. However, the most important part I hope will go on forever, is the learning, the camaraderie, making new friends, revisiting with old friends for those who were able to attend this year’s fire school. Let me take a couple of minutes to recap my thoughts from just a day or two ago as I write this month’s article. 

   First and most importantly. Thank you to those who attended. Without you taking the time out of your life to go to Watertown and spend a couple of days with the other firefighters, vendors, instructors and everyone else it would not have been successful. Attendance was up from last year, and that’s great. So, thank you for helping. 

   Thank you to all the firefighters and families who stayed home to continue to provide the vital services that we all do. You kept the “home fires burning”. No pun intended. 

   Thank you to the entire staff of Lake Area Technical College who are just so great to work with. They bend over backwards to take care of whatever we need. I wish I could thank each and every one personally. 

   Thank you to Fire Chief Don Rowland and Assistant Chief Scott Jongbloed. They are so very willing to allow their firefighters the time and lend their talents to instruct and help in any way they can, along with their facilities to provide training. Along with that goes the support of the mayor and administration of Watertown. They truly support and love having you come to their city and spend a few days with them. 

   To the nearly 30 instructors that take their time to come and help our firefighters become better firefighters. Without them there simply would not be the exchange of information. The one comment we hear from the instructors, is they love coming to South Dakota and they love teaching our firefighters. Great job to all of you.

   To Paul Merriman’s entire staff at the Fire Marshal’s Office. They are there to see that everyone gets credit for their class, helping instructors with their needs, or all the other things. 

   Auxiliary, thank you for taking care of the vendor show and all the door prizes, which adds a bunch to the overall experience of fire school. Great job to all of you. 

   Last but certainly not least. I want to thank my fellow Board members. As my time and involvement winds down, I am continually amazed at the time, effort and dedication each one has to the Association. Their entire focus is to bring to everyone the absolute best fire school possible. The work they put in behind the scenes is unbelievable. It’s a job that doesn’t stop when fire school is over. They already are working on classes for next year’s fire school, putting finishing touches on the Fall Conference in September, planning on where and how to get the mobile live fire trailers out to departments, and so many other things. They do all this, and more, without pay for their time. Thank you to each of you. Especially thank you to our President, Charlie Kludt, who’s steady hand and thinking keeps all of us in line when it gets a little crazy. Great job Charlie, again.

   I’m sure I missed some and please don’t be offended if I did, but sometimes there are so many individuals, I simply say thank you. 

   Ok, now for a couple of take aways I saw. I stopped in the pump operations class and there were about 16 at that session. I asked how many were at their first fire school? 16 hands went up. I asked how many would like to come back next year? 16 hands went up. I asked how many thought the class was positive? 16 hands went up. WOW. 

   In the grain rescue class one of the students was grinning from ear to ear as he was the one who got “buried” in the grain, all the way up to his ears. There should be a picture of another student in the grain, so it’s not only about learning from the outside, but we also learn from the inside too. 

   The Board gives each attendee who has completed the Firefighter 1 and 2 courses and this is their first fire school they have attended, a gift card. This year we gave away 29 of the gift cards. In past years we have provided less than 10. Hopefully they will all return next year and what a positive sign that there are new and younger individuals coming into the fire service.

   With all this I need to stop typing and shut this off. Besides, I’m sure you quit reading a long time ago. So, I’ll simply say, thank you again to all who came or were a part of fire school. Until next month, keep training and share your knowledge with others. 

Denny Gorton,

SDFA Past President and 




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Jeff Gargano - Editor
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