Year in review

   A quick reminder to watch your mail and email for the SDFA Membership renewal coming out. 

   If you haven’t designated a department individual to register on our GrowthZone membership program, please do so. This will allow you to check your roster and make changes throughout the year. Check our website at to get registered in the system.

   The SDFA will have Winter Board Meetings in Fort Pierre on 14-15 January 2024.

   Looking back in review of 2023, it has definitely had many notable happenings. Some we may hope to build on, others, we only want to be a memory.

   January - We started the year still looking for Denny’s replacement as secretary and treasurer so he could fully retire.

   Winter storms covered the state in snow causing dangerous conditions and closures.

   Legislation was proposed by Rep. Kevin Jensen to create a State Fire Assistance grant. Starting out as an idea to provide assistance to small fire departments, it passed the legislature as a $5 million program.

   Winter storm postponed SDFA meetings. 

   February - Final planning for State Fire School at Lake Area Technical College in Watertown as details were completed. It snowed, again.

   March - The NVFC Regional Wildland Symposium held in Box Elder and Rapid City. Attendees from as far away as Maine attended the training opportunities dealing with forestry, farm and range wild fires.

   Of course, there were more winter storms, more snow, and everyone is ready for spring to get here.

   April - Chester VFD firefighter Fred Fedeler was honored following his line of duty death while on scene at a rural fire.

   District Fire schools held around the state.

   May - Retired and longtime Colton Fire Chief LeRoy Koopman and his wife, Marie, were honored by the National Volunteer Fire Council with the Lifetime Achievement Award at an award ceremony in Washington DC.

   Most of the snow has melted. Still looking for Denny’s replacement. 

   The first of the mobile live fire burn trailers was delivered. Plans for maintenance training teams were made and final preparations to the trailers were scheduled to be completed by the manufacturer.

   June - State Fire School was very well attended. LATC, Watertown FD, and Visit Watertown made for outstanding hosts and we look forward to returning in 2024.

   July & August - Denny still not retired, but the snow is all gone.

   September - Cavour VFD Fire Chief Josh Kogel was honored following his line of duty death while on scene at a structure fire.

   Prior to fall meetings in Cooperstown, NVFC representatives were privileged to place a memorial wreath at the Survivor Tree at the World Trade Center Memorial Site in New York City.

   October - SDFA meetings and Fall Fire Conference held in Fort Pierre. State fire assistance grant applications totaled over $15 million. We appointed a new secretary, Samara Erickson, to start and take over duties in January 2024. Denny can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Treasurer still to be determined. First snow for the season.

   November – Fire grant award notification letters to be sent out. 

   December - Denny might get to retire, again.

   My heart aches when I think of the challenges and multiple tragedies some of the departments have faced this year. Especially our fellow brothers and sisters in the Madison and Lake County area, as well as, the Fort Pierre and Pierre areas. 

   Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

   The Christmas and holiday season can be joyous and reflective. I hope each of you enjoy your time together with family and friends, and will smile, even if there is a tear in your eye, as you reflect on the blessings and memories you have.

   On behalf of the South Dakota Firefighters Association Board, and my family to yours, Have a safe and Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.

Charles and Dawn Kludt,

SDFA President & First Lady of Fire







Blaze Publications, Inc.

Jeff Gargano - Editor
P.O. Box 122
Humboldt, IA 50548

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