BIA-volunteer firefighter dispute threatens Pine Ridge Reservation
October 22, 2020
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Structure fires are not unusual on Pine Ridge. Firefighters watching buildings burn to the ground, however, is unusual.
A streak of structure fires hit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation between August and October, but regional fire departments did not respond to calls for help on those fires. The burning question is: “why?”
The issue can be traced to special firefighting contracts: fire protection agreements, or FPAs.
These agreements are contracts between the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and volunteer fire departments that allow the latter to both fight and receive reimbursement for responding to structure fires.