How To Become a Firefighter in South Dakota

Although typically portrayed as a cozy coven of close-knit communities few and far between, South Dakota has a lot more going on than first meets the eye. Considering that most of the famous Mount Rushmore State’s biggest assets lie beneath its surface, this comes as no surprise.  A prime example is the Homestake Mine in Lead, the biggest subterranean gold mine in the world. A close second lies in Lemmon, the burial site of fossilized remains dating back 50 million years. Deep within the bowels of the Black Hills resides Jewel Cave National Monument, the world’s fourth largest cave.  Despite its impressive belowground attributes, there is also an evil force lying just beneath South Dakota’s surface. It’s called “fire” and it lives only to incite incendiary riots of major proportion.

Firefighters South DakotaLuckily, those who live in South Dakota have an opposing force that also works diligently behind the scenes to safeguard them from this fiery fiend. Thus far, these dedicated public servants called firefighters seem to be doing a fine job.  Next up we will cover the basic requirements of How To Become a Firefighter in South Dakota.

As in most other American jurisdictions, there are certain universal threshold eligibility criteria for employment as a South Dakota fire-fighting professional, that include:

• Be at least 18 years of age
• Have a valid state driver’s license
• Live within a reasonable proximity to the local fire department

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Beyond these basic requirements, local fire departments have varying additional standards that all would-be firefighters must satisfy. Common examples are Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic certification.

The Firefighter Hiring Process:

Just as specific eligibility requirements vary among local areas throughout South Dakota, so does the actual application procedure. Below is a synopsized scenario of how the process typically flows.

1) Complete and submit an application directly to the desired local fire department
2) Fire Department Chief and/or Board of Directors review and either approve or reject it
3) Upon approval, the firefighter applicant must undergo a driving history and criminal background verification
4) After successful completion of driving history and criminal background checks, the Fire Chief or Board of Directors forward the application to the local City Council for further review
5) City Council or City Commission then issue its an application approval or disapproval
6) Upon City Council or City Commission approval, the firefighter candidate must submit to a comprehensive medical examination
7) After receiving a clean bill of health from the healthcare professional who conducts the physical exam, the firefighter is officially hired and receives his or her gear and assumes probationary employment at the local fire department.

Firefighter Training and Certification in South Dakota:

The South Dakota Fire Marshal Office (“FMO”) oversees and coordinates all firefighter training via its Fire Service Training Program. This program consists of a network of firefighter training facilities in the state. The largest of these is the State Fire School that offers Firefighter I and Firefighter II pre-certification training that local departments virtually always require. Many other “Certified Training Programs” are also available there and at other FMO facilities.

For additional details about how to become a firefighter in South Dakota, visit the official FMO website at

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