Rapid City FD flexes specialty skills in response to car vs. building

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Rapid City Fire Department had the opportunity to flex their wood-working skills Wednesday morning after a truck struck a wall of a local business.

Officials say the truck jumped the curb and struck the wall of an insurance company in the 2600 block of Commerce Rd. in west Rapid City, leaving blocks in pieces and the wall tilted at an angle. While the business was occupied at the time, no one was injured.

Due to the damage to the wall, concerns over the structural integrity led to the call-out of Rapid City’s Fire Station 7, which specializes in heavy rescue scenarios such as this.

“They came out and built a shoring system to help stabilize the building and make sure there aren’t any further issues until the business’s contractor can get here and make repairs,” said Lt. Jim Bussell, Public Information Officer for the RCFD.

Bussell calls Wednesday’s call-out a “high-risk, low frequency event.” He says vehicles don’t drive into buildings often but on such occurrences, “they pose a great deal of risk to victims and responders so it’s really important to be dialed in, in those areas.”

On scene was Lt. Monte Mertes, operations with the RCFD, who specializes in heavy rescue at Fire Station 7. After arriving on scene of any scenario, he says crews evaluate the structure, assess the damage, and then create a plan to prevent further loss of the property.

That plan, Wednesday, was a two-post vertical shore made by four-by-fours to support the compromised wall. In order to build the wall, the station brings along a trailer filled with 20,000 lbs. of tools of all sorts to meet the needs of scenarios like trench rescues, structural collapse/shoring, confined space rescues, and more.

“Things like this happen,” said Mertes. “It’s not a big earthquake zone but we do have cars that go through buildings, we do have construction type accidents that we need to respond to so it’s important that we’re trained in this and that we can respond to it.”

While the heavy rescue equipment may only get called out every few months, the crews still respond to regular fire-fighting and medical calls on a daily basis.

Categories: Local News, Traffic & Accidents