Handcrew Mission - To provide quality, professional service to the people of South Dakota and the nation in response to wildland fires and in other times of need. We strive to meet our goals of safety, cooperation, teamwork, strong work ethic and developing future leaders, while maintaining the firefighting ideals of DUTY, INTEGRITY, and RESPECT.
Duties - Our duties include responding to wildland fires, natural disaster relief efforts and other all-hazards missions as well as prescribed fire and (hazardous wildland fuels mitigation projects).
Deployments - Past all-hazards deployments include; tornados, floods, hurricanes, blizzards, ice and wind storms, space shuttle recovery and search and rescue manpower
The Black Hat Handcrew is based in Rapid City and is classified as a Type 2 IA (Initial Attack) Handcrew. Primary duties for the crew are wildland fire suppression and hazardous fuels reduction work on state and private lands within the Black Hills.
The Black Hat Handcrew became an official State of South Dakota crew in 2001. Prior to that, the crew name was adopted by a local Bureau of Indian Affairs crew. The crew is fully staffed with 20 firefighters throughout the fire season and remains partially staffed during the winter months.
Regardless of seasonal staffing levels, the crew serves year round as a fire suppression and all-hazards resource. The Black Hats have a long tradition of providing professional service in times of need for the people of South Dakota.
When local fire conditions are favorable, the crew can be made available for national assignments. Since 2016, the crew has been deployed nationally 21 times and has aided the citizens of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, California, and Tennessee.
Crew Boss: Vacant
3305 W. South Street
Rapid City, SD 57702
The Bear Mountain Handcrew was established in the fall of 2005 in response to an increased need for hazardous fuels reduction throughout the Black Hills. In the time since its inception, the crew has developed into a full wildland fire suppression handcrew alongside the Black Hat Handcrew.
Bear Mountain is based in Rapid City and is classified as a Type 2 IA (Initial Attack) Handcrew. The crew is fully staffed with 20 firefighters throughout the fire season and partially staffed during the remainder of the year. When not assigned to incidents, Bear Mountain performs hazardous fuels reduction work on state and private lands within the Black Hills. Regardless of seasonal staffing levels, the crew serves year round as a fire suppression and all-hazards resource for the citizens of South Dakota. In times of lesser need at home, the crew can be made available for national assignments. Since 2013, Bear Mountain has deployed nationally 18 times during which time the crew aided the citizens of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, and Georgia. Bear Mountain continues to develop a strong tradition of professional service in times of need.
Crew Boss: Seth McCann
3305 W. South Street
Rapid City, SD 57702
Seasonal firefighters are hired in the spring of each year. The number of positions available each spring is dependent on the number of seasonal crew members who remained with the crew through the winter months. Check out the Seasonal Hiring page to see if there are available positions!
To be certified for line duty on a wildland fire, all firefighters must have successfully completed the (NWCG) S-130/S-190/L-180 courses for beginning firefighters, as well as the (FEMA Incident Command System) ICS-100 and IS-700 courses.
It is also highly recommended that the ICS 200 and ICS 800 courses be completed. Individuals who complete the above courses will be able to print completion certificates once each course has been finished. If hired, a copy of each certificate will be required to begin employment.
Physical Fitness is Important!
The official physical fitness requirement for any individual to be certified for line duty on a wildland fire nationwide is the Arduous Work Capacity Test. To complete and pass this line certification test, an individual must be able to walk 3 miles over flat ground in 45 minutes while carrying a 45 pound pack.
The job is physically demanding work under extreme environmental conditions. Extreme heat and cold, long days and short nights, primitive food and sleeping arrangements are the norm and handcrews draw many of the most difficult assignments. While the pack test is the only official requirement for fitness, any steps individuals can take to better prepare themselves are helpful. Most crew members maintain a routine of strength and cardio training and a healthy, balanced diet.