Rockerville firefighter profiled in national fire service book

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In October, firefighters from across the country were honored in a new book, including Rockerville's Gail Schimdt.

Schimdt, a graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, volunteers her time as chief of the department, while balancing a full-time job. When selected, Schmidt was very humbled, and she credits her department for the honor.

"Ultimately, I don't think I would have been selected if we hadn't been such a solid agency,” said Schimdt. “And again, if the entire Pennington County hadn't been such a solid fire service. But I am so proud of the men and women that we have here in Rockerville and the calls we are able to cover and services that we provide for this great community."

Schimdt became a firefighter in 1994, coming from a family of service, with brothers in the armed forces.

"I think the draw for me was the community, the opportunity to work with the community, be a part of something greater than myself, and utilize my athletic ability.”

Schimdt’s works full-time job is as a computer engineer for the U.S. Geological Survey in Sioux Falls - work that she believes contributed to her selection.

"A lot of the work we do over there is remotely sensed data, and utilizing that data for things such as burned area and burned extent and burn severity, fractional snow cover - some of those concepts. So, it ties with my current job and the fire service as well."

Schimdt is featured on page 80 of "American Firefighter” - one of 53 firefighters featured.

"You can go from New York City Fire Department to small town, Rockerville, USA. And that’s what they have done with this book, is highlighting the variety of American firefighters throughout the country. And males, females, big department, little department - it doesn't matter."

Pennington County Fire Administrator Jerome Harvey says this honor showcases the great people that are involved in the fire service.

"Thousands of people -- were considered for this," said Harvey. “And to pull Chief Schimdt out of that large of pool of people from across the country again should show the people and the residents and the taxpayers here in Pennington County, the quality of people that we have here in the Pennington County Fire Service.

While Schimdt hasn't met in person with other firefighters in the book, is is something she hopes to do in the future.

A portion of the proceeds of each book will go to National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, which supports the families of firefighters who have died in the line-of-duty. The book is available to be ordered online and can be purchased at all major book sellers.

Portraits by Paul Mobley
Text By JoEllen Kelly, Ph.D.
ISBN: 978-1-59962-137-1

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