Faces in the Crowd: Gail Schmidt
Gail is a graduate of SDSM&T and gives of her time and talents to Rockerville VFD and the Pennington County Search and Rescue. She has put in countless hours the last 25 years. Her leadership and dedication have never wavered.
Fire Chief Gail Schmidt of the Rockerville Fire Department has been nominated for the Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons Women of Distinction Award. The 2019 Women of Distinction event will be held November 12th at the Holiday Inn Rushmore Plaza.
Gail grew up with a love of the outdoors and helping others. She combined her passions and ended up becoming a volunteer firefighter in 1994.
Gail Schmidt, Fire Chief, Rockerville VFD, shares, “My mom was a nurse, and she always taught me that being a part of the community was important, so I think I grew up in that world of as a family we were outdoors a lot. When it came to volunteerism and the Fire Department, again its outdoors, it’s very physical, but it’s also challenging in the mindset as well, and just something that’s always changing.”
Gail works almost as much in her volunteer position at the Fire Chief of the Rockerville Volunteer Fire Department as she does her paid, full time job as a software engineer.
But she doesn’t consider her time dedicated to the Fire Department as work because it’s her passion. The job demands as Fire Chief keep her on her toes, as she does everything from cleaning the fire hall to suiting up and heading to a fire.
“It’s multitasking in just being able to do a variety of different things, and then being a part of not only the community but this family, that we call Rockerville Volunteer Fire Dept. and just being a part of that family. I’m proud to be a responder with my brothers and sisters on this department.”
Community outreach is also an important aspect of her position. As the first woman fire chief for Rockerville VFD she emphasizes that a successful team consists of a variety of people.
“What I will say about this agency and this county as a whole is that they’ve really embraced bringing women into the fire service. I want everyone as a whole to understand that this, the fire service, search and rescue, most roles at this time aren’t just men or male or female roles, I mean women can do a lot, men can do a lot, and together — together, we make an amazing team.”
In 2017, Gail represented South Dakota firefighters in the American Firefighter book, which was a benefit for the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation.