According to this Argus article, it would appear the Homebuilders Association knows more about fire safe materials then actual fire fighters. And why wouldn’t the council listen to them? Our fire department was practically dead silent about amending the provision.

Why didn’t Fire Chief Sideras come and speak about the importance of this issue? A Brandon firefighter died because of this exact problem. I can’t even fathom a fire department being absent from a discussion as important as this.

 “Ron Bell said last month the added layer of drywall would add between five and 10 minutes of structural life to floor trusses in the event of a fire.”

Not quite!

A 1/2” layer of ordinary sheetrock can add up to 30 minutes of additional protection to a floor truss delaying structural collapse. Ron isn’t a fire expert but a fire fighter like the chief or the fire marshal (Dean Lanier) could have easily provided that information.

Either one of them could also have reminded the council that many cities do not opt out sections of the International Fire Code when it is updated, they adopt it as is. (I.E., they don’t let the Homebuilder’s Associations run the show with scare tactics like “people won’t be able to afford houses anymore or it will add $3,000 on to the cost of a house (Notice they didn’t mention the square footage of that house).

“Putting that cap up, there is still going to be areas that will be exposed to those trusses and the airflow will go up in there,” said Council Chairman Kenny Anderson Jr. “I just don’t feel there’s enough data to show … that this will be effective.”

Airflow isn’t the problem, it’s when the flame gets to the metal gusset plate on the floor truss itself. Example: Take a hot pan on the stove on high heat. Put your hand above the pan 2” away. You can feel the heat, but you aren’t being burned. That’s airflow. Put your hand on the pan. You’re being burned, eventually to the third degree. (bet you wish you had that piece of drywall about now) See the difference?

Drywall will delay that for up to 30 minutes.

More Evidence;

The fire department, Sideras, and the union have the data to show floor trusses are extremely dangerous under direct flame contact – that is why the fire code was changed to cover the trusses. They will fail within 5-10 minutes of direct flame contact. In some cases that’s before the fire department is even on scene. Changes to the fire code aren’t made lightly, they’re just as political and fought against at the national and international levels.

So did Sideras put his career ahead of the life safety of the 200+ firefighters under his “protection”?

“Citing cost concerns and a lack of effectiveness, councilors rejected the proposal Tuesday.”

They made the only decision they could come to considering they only had half of the facts – the ones provided by the homebuilder’s association and the incorrect ones provided by the building services director. Where was Sideras and what are we paying this fire chief for? But it also proves that our city council does very little research of their own relying solely on the shills that run the different departments.

(Note: A former firefighter/inspector contributed to this post)


Last night while councilor Hat-Hater Rex Rolfing was rambling about his bump back ordinance (that he didn’t even understand while having a Dick Kelly moment) some interesting statements came from Fire Chief Sideras’ mouth;

Both Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras and Police Chief Matt Burns said it would have a “chilling effect” or worse on civil servants weighing the pros and cons of accepting a promotion.

“I would have to go through potentially two mayors, three mayors. Do I want to put my family at risk if things didn’t work out?” Sideras said, referring to the factors a candidate for his position would have to consider without a bump back clause. “There isn’t another fire department in town. There isn’t another police department in town.”

Maybe you should have thought of those concerns before you fired and prosecuted a mentally ill assistant fire chief. Instead of helping Patrick Warren with his mental illness and allowing him to continue his job with treatment and a possible demotion, you threw the book at him and fired him with no recourse. I don’t believe Jim is concerned one ioata about his fellow fire department directors, this is about kissing the mayor’s ass and how he looks and if he can secure some more investors for his lakefront resort in Charles Mix county.


Image: KDLT-TV Screenshot

Boy, this new 125 foot ladder truck will come in handy when they need to start sandblasting the rust from the EC siding. Ironically, it kind of looks like what the truck was purchased for;

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Mark Bukovich said “the event center, a great facility, but one of the issues that we have with that facility is the setback, where we can park the fire trucks, in order to reach the roof. This ladder truck will give us a great advantage of getting to the roof, if we ever need to.”

At a cost of nearly one million dollars, the 125 foot tall ladder is a big investment for Sioux Falls, which should last a long time.

Oh, there is probably so much water behind the siding that you don’t have to worry to much about the EC catching on fire.

Does mold burn?

I heard rumblings about this truck about a month ago and the main reason it had to be purchased was because of the EC. It is no coincidence that the EC is 122 feet tall and the ladder is 125 feet.

I’ve told people if you think the $180 million + investment in the EC is the end of the bills coming in, you are crazy. The operating subsidies and maintenance each year will be a drain on the taxpayers for years. The economic impact of the facility will never equal the subsidies.


The graphic from this year’s budget proposal shows that of the fire department’s total $26.2 million dollar operating budget request, that $22.7 million of that is for wages and benefits, or approximately 86.4% of the total budget. Only 13.6% or $3.5 million goes toward buying or repairing equipment, paying for fuel or repair on trucks, or paying for utilities or minor repairs on the 11 fire stations. Some larger repairs could be in the capital budget.

If finance used a pie chart or bar graph it would look bad and be more obvious how much of the budget the wages are.

They managed to cut what they are requesting to buy in supplies, equipment, and repairs, so even though the employees are getting a 3% wage increase, the “other” operating request is down by $200,000, so the department’s overall request for 2016 is only up by 1.95%

I know it’s tough to point this out because whenever you pick on firefighters there is always public outcry about what they do and how much they risk their lives, but someone needs to start asking them about their call volume:

• It’s about 70% medical (EMS). Paramedics make a lot less money per year - ask any working for Paramedics Plus

• You wonder how many fires they respond to in a year, I think it averages around 300+. How many of those required hooking up a hydrant? (this means there was a large enough fire the
firefighters had to mask up and actually work as firefighters in smoke). It takes the waste paper basket fires and prank dog poop fires out of the statistics.

• You wonder how long the crews are out of the stations each day on calls? The crews work 24 hour shifts but probably average 3 calls per day. If you take false alarms into account, the average is probably under 20 minutes. So if you look at all the factors, the actual time spent is probably about 1 hour in 24 responding to fires (hazards). No doubt, I’m sure other work is being done - business inspections, yardwork, station cleaning, tours, etc., but is that the kind of work that requires “hazardous duty” pay?

Maybe some questions the city council should be asking during the budget hearings.


An example of one of the lots on Higbee Cut, Lake Andes, SD on Lake Francis Case (not one of the lots owned by the firefighters).

Through public records (both the city of Sioux Falls and Charles Mix County) I have found that the Fire Chief for Sioux Falls, a Captain, a Division Chief, a Battalion Chief and a former Battalion Chief (5 total) have invested in approximately 25+ total lots in the Higbee Cut area near Lake Andes, SD in Charles Mix county. They all own their OWN set of lots, and NOT together as a group, according to county records.

Not sure what I think about public employees, that work for the same municipality, investing together. At least they had the common sense to NOT invest in Sioux Falls or Minnehaha or Lincoln county and to buy the lots individually instead as an investment group. Private employees, who work together, often invest together in land or other investments. Many people have made great friends through their employment, and often spend time together outside of work recreating. Some times that means investing in that recreation together as a group, outside of work.

Three of the supervisors under the fire chief have received promotions since 2010, the 4th is no longer with the Fire Department.

I totally understand the ‘brotherhood’ firefighters have with each other, and I encourage the camaraderie and involvement in each other’s private lives, especially people who are in charge of saving lives and property for the public, they HAVE to work as a tight knit team!

What do you think?

Personally, I don’t get involved to much with my fellow employee’s lives. Whether that is investing money, dating or other private matters. One of the main reasons is when problems arise in such arrangements, you have to work with these people, and it can cause issues at work (especially when it comes to love and money 🙂