Four RCFD firefighters are retiring to prevent future layoffs
RAPID CITY, S.D. — As RCFD says goodbye to four firefighters who are retiring, and taking more than 100-years of experience with them.
While long careers eventually lead to retirement, many of these are spurred by a tightened budget.
COVID-19 has brought stress upon city budgets everywhere, and in Rapid City, the fire department is seeing some of its senior-most members step down to help relieve that stress.
Last month, Fire Chief Rod Seals announced his retirement after 25 years of service to help stave off any potential future layoffs of city employees. Three more members have since decided to follow suit.
“Until a couple months ago, this wasn’t even on my radar,” said RCFD Training Section Chief, Matt Culberson. “The state of affairs forced me to look at things and say, yep it’s the right time for me, the department, it’s the right thing to do.”
“It just seemed like the right time for the retirement portion to happen,” said RCFD Battalion Chief, Tim Daly. “I know the city is in some budget crunches.”
After these retirements, the department will be down 14 staff members, but instead of hiring to fill, positions will be filled from within and any gaps in work end up being shared by the rest.
Training staff are being directed back to operations to meet the needs of the community.
“So it’s just a bigger workload on everyone,” said RCFD Division Chief – Fire Operations, Nick Carlson. “No matter how short we are on the floor in the management side, to the general public, they can’t see a difference, it has to be seamless, they just have to know that when we call 911, we’re going to show up.”
“If we’ve done our job, then those guys will be prepared. You won’t even notice a ripple in the pool,” said Daly.
The city says there will be savings from these retirements, but until new positions are filled, just how much is being saved can’t be nailed down.