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Battling wildland fires… Firefighters share their experience

The Tea Area Fire Department is comprised of dedicated and generous volunteers who give their time and talents to the community. Several firefighters in the department also sign up to fight wildland fires — Alex Curry, Bob Venard, Brett Miller, Chris Luden, Jacob Straatmeyer, Jeremy Dunkelberger, Jerome Staples, John Curtis, Kelly Keehn, Mike Bartell, Patrick Staples, Rick Baker, Steven Oberle, and Tanner Venard.

This group of firefighters has undergone wildland training, and when they are able to go, will get dispatched to wildfires in western South Dakota or any one of our neighboring states. Wildland firefighting agencies operate at the federal level (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs), and the state level (Dept. of Forestry, Dept. of Natural Resources).

The Tea Dept. also has several trucks that are registered on the national website, each truck has a different use and gets paid different rates. For example, when the rig is out at a wildland fire the Tea Fire Department makes $82 an hour. Oberle, first assistant fire chief, said this is good for the community because it brings dollars in to the department that can then be used to support Tea Fire Department’s needs.

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