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Jason Culberson settles in as new Fire Chief of Rapid City

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 10:05 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -Jason Culberson is the new Fire Chief in Rapid City, and although that may come with different responsibilities, he’s no stranger to the department he now leads. Although Culberson has seen a lot of change in the last few months, he’s implemented some changes of his own.

“I’ve still got the skills of a firefighter and a paramedic. You miss it. When you come through the ranks like that, you still have the need and desire to perform and serve the community,” Culberson said. “But now my service to the community is different. It’s making sure that we have the right fire trucks, we have the right ambulances, we have the people in place to be able to protect this community best we can.”

Firefighting is a brotherhood that usually sees the legacies of men and women. Culberson became enamored with the occupation because of his father’s service in the brigade. And being Fire Chief seems to run in the family.

“[In] 1979, my father became a volunteer firefighter,” Culberson said. “And I remember being a young kid and being able to go to open houses and riding on a fire truck and being proud of my dad. I thought it was a neat and cool position to have. He became fire chief in 1983 for Pierre, and it was that way until 1988, I believe.”

The job of a firefighter is rewarding yet inherently dangerous. Chief Culberson admits there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with the title. However, every firefighter knows they have a job to do regardless of the circumstances.

“Some of the simplistic things that people don’t think about that we do and everyone asks you what’s the worst things you’ve ever seen; for me, it was a lot to do with getting in the back of an ambulance with an individual who’s having their worst day,” Culberson said. “And being able to hold their hand, and make them smile, and make them feel a little bit better for a short amount of time. Those types of things are what we hold on to and what I hold to as success for us and me. It really reinforces why we do this work.”

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