Pennington County volunteer fire departments search for funding
Rural volunteer fire departments in Pennington County are not only hurting for volunteers, but for money.
SILVER CITY, S.D. — Volunteer fire departments in rural portions of Pennington County are searching for ways to make up for missing income.
The Silver City Volunteer Fire Department canceled their ice cream social, which is typically their largest fundraiser.
“It’s horrible,” said Chief Phil Schlief, of Silver City VFD, “It’s a third of our annual budget and so it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
All of Pennington County’s eighteen departments rely on donations and fundraising. One third of those departments do not have a steady source of annual income.
Scenic Fire Department requires members pay dues. Members provide the money that provides the fire service.
“It’s always been the main backbone or funding source for our department.” said Charles Maude, Chief of Scenic VFD, “And it was a way to get fuel in the tanks.”
But without volunteers Scenic doesn’t have that money. And without volunteers, departments like Wasta don’t exist.
“We bank on our mutual aid,” said Carrie Schell, a volunteer for Wasta VFD, “We don’t have enough volunteers to take care of our area so when we are going to other locations we let others know as well, hey we’re going to take two individuals from Wasta if we have a call, can New Underwood assist.”
During the 2021 annual budget presentations June 18th, fire departments across the county will asking commissioners to consider prioritizing fire department funding, But there is also the plea by volunteers for more volunteers.