South Dakota Department Celebrating Century of Service

An open house will be held at Herreid Fire Department.

June 06--On Saturday, the Herreid Fire Department will host an all-day, activity-filled event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the volunteer firefighting service.

While the event is meant to celebrate the centennial, Herreid fire chief Mark Bates said the most important aspect behind the reasoning of the event is focused elsewhere.

"We do it annually, but we want to do a little extra and give back to the whole community," he said.

With volunteer firefighters, Bates said the community supports the department financially, with the celebration a chance to show the community the same respect they have given to the department.

"We have no income, so we rely on donations and grants," Bates said, while also listing district funding and taxes as financial inclusions.

Creating a small family tradition, Bates followed in the bootsteps of his father, Dennis Bates, as fire chief.

Dennis Bates was chief for 10 years and served the department for a total of 46 years.

In a small town like Herreid, Dennis Bates said support comes from all corners of the town, including the surrounding area.

"Everybody is out to help everybody, and that's what the fire department is," he said. "Even if it's not a fire, but you have a major problem and need help, they will send someone out. They're just there to help people."

On the Herreid Fire Department 100th Anniversary Facebook page, the department has been sharing pictures, updates, prize-winning trivia and information about the department and Saturday's celebration.

One post is from an old Prairie Pioneer article stating, "If someone sees you light a match and calls the fire department, they are there before the match goes out."

Throughout the years, not only has the community grown, but it has witnessed and aided the fire department's gradual transformation.

"When it started out, we had a little bit of nothing for water supply and trucks," Dennis Bates said. "Now, it is an exceptional, beautiful place. It's just unreal."

Copyright 2014 - American News, Aberdeen, S.D.