Rural communities need volunteers to thrive and help provide services larger municipalities offer through paid personnel, such as a fire department. The volunteer fire department in Webster, SD, understands this need and the facilities and training needed in order to respond to emergency situations.
The Webster Fire Department has responded to many emergencies over the years, however, the time had arrived where the department needed help. Webster’s fire hall was in a state of disrepair. The roof had severe deficiencies and leaked; allowing mold to grow in the building and on all of the fire fighter's gear. The building also lacked space to provide adequate training for the volunteers.
Partnering with USDA Rural Development, the City of Webster was able to secure two Community Facility Direct loans for $791,000 and $200,000. The federal funds were leveraged with a South Dakota Community Development Block grant (CDBG) of $309,000 and an applicant contribution of $284,000 for a total project cost of $1,584,000. The City of Webster was able to renovate their fire station and alleviate health and safety concerns, provide space for training, and space to enhance response capabilities in emergency situations. “The facility is now an asset, instead of a liability, and should serve the needs of the community and fire department for the next 50 to 75 years,” said Robert Kwasniewski, Fire Chief of Webster Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department.