DPS names new Wildland Fire Division director
PIERRE, S.D. — On Wednesday, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety has named the new Director of the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division.
Jay Wickham will take on the role from former Chief Jay Esperance after previously serving as Deputy Director. Esperance retired June 8 and Wickham’s first official day as the division’s chief was June 24.
Wickham is a 24-year veteran of the wildland fire profession and he has served in a variety of wildland fire management positions including dispatch and logistics, Fire Management Officer in both Mitchell and Custer and District Office Operations Manager and Chief of Operations in Rapid City.
“Since the Wildland Fire Division joined the Department of Public Safety last year, Jay Wickham has demonstrated his firefighting expertise and the leadership qualities to lead the Division” said DPS Cabinet Secretary Craig Price. “We are excited to work with Chief Wickham as the new Director. We have no doubt he will move the division forward in the coming months.”
Wickham has been the Chief of Operations and Deputy Director since 2021. In these roles, he has been involved in duties like strategic planning, budget administration, regional and national fire coordination and fire suppression.
“It has been an honor working for South Dakota Wildland Fire,” said Wickham. “I look forward to the future working with this great team of firefighters protecting the citizens of South Dakota and their property from wildfires.”
The Wildland Fire Division is based in Rapid City and has 74 employees, including seasonal employees. The division’s main goals are fire management and fire suppression.