Northern Great Plains Dispatch moves

NGP Dispatch
NGP Dispatch
The new Northern Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Center. Photo by Bill Gabbert

The Northern Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Dispatch Center was evicted from their facility at the Rapid City Regional Airport. On January 9 they became operational in a brand new building located south of Rapid City adjacent to the new Black Hills National Forest Mystic Ranger District office at 8123 South Highway 16, Rapid City, SD 57702.

During most of the decade of the 1990s, there were few large fires in the Northern Great Plains area, which includes western South Dakota, northeast Wyoming, and northwest Nebraska. Then there were several large fires in 2000 and 2001 which demonstrated the need for a coordinated dispatch center in an area where previously each land management agency handled their own dispatching. Then-Governor Bill Jankow, who died January 12 of brain cancer, was instrumental in finding the location and funding for what became the Northern Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Center (NGPIDC). Most of the $1.8 million in funds to retrofit the old unused passenger terminal at the airport came from the State of South Dakota. The first 3-year lease for the building was signed in 2001 and after gutting the interior, building new walls and offices, and installing communications systems and a backup generator, it was put into service in 2003.

The FAA, which has a great deal of control over how land and facilities are used at airports, began complaining soon after the NGPIDC moved in, saying they were not aware until then that there was a new tenant at the airport. The lease was extended for another 3 years in 2004, but in 2006 the FAA sent an eviction letter claiming that the space was needed for hangars and other aeronautical uses. The airport and the NGPIDC argued the case that the dispatch center needed to remain, but the writing was on the wall and fire managers and government officials began looking around for alternatives.

In 2009 the U.S. Congress earmarked approximately $2 million for a new facility, thanks to support from Senators John Thune and Tim Johnson, and Representative Stephanie Herseth as well as some elected officials in Wyoming. Groundbreaking occurred in October of 2010, the building was complete in December of 2011, and the move-in process began. The new building has space for several offices, consoles for approximately a half-dozen dispatchers, and a large room which can be used for expanded dispatch during major emergency incidents, or for training during the off-season.

NGPIDC logosThe agencies that are served by the NGPIDC include: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, South Dakota State Wildland Fire Suppression Division, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Wyoming Forestry Division, and the Nebraska Forest Service.

The new phone numbers at the NGPIDC are 605-716-2738, 800-275-4955, and Fax 605-343-5075.

The South Dakota State Wildland Fire Suppression Division has offices for several of their employees in the dispatch center at the airport which will have to be moved before the airport bulldozes the building. The last I heard they were still uncertain about their new location.

I stopped by to check out the new facility on Wednesday, and Sheri Fox, Center Manager, was kind enough to let me take some photos. It turned out that a Fire Science class from Western Dakota Tech was just beginning a tour, so I tagged along.

Here are some photos I took of the new facility:

NGPIDC Overview


NGPIDC  Nebraska maps
Dispatcher Megan Jaros describes the section of the dispatch office that handles incidents in Nebraska.
NGPIDC  Resource magnets
Each fire suppression resource is on a labeled magnet that is manually moved around by a dispatcher as the unit changes location.
NGPIDC  Expanded Dispatch
Dispatcher Megan Jaros explains the function of the Expanded Dispatch/Training Room to the Fire Science students.
USFS Engine station
The new engine station next door has room for three wildland engines.
Mystic District Office-back
The back side of the adjacent (and very impressive) Mystic District Office.
Mystic District Office
Check out this detail on the back side of the Mystic District Office
Mystic District office-front
The front side of the adjacent Mystic District Office.


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

7 thoughts on “Northern Great Plains Dispatch moves”

  1. It is a beautiful facility and will serve both the staff and firefighters nicely for many years. Good job showing people around Megan!

  2. The pictures of your new center are wonderfull and all the good works of each and every person who took part in this project are to be commended. Thank you to all of the firefighters who over all the years have done such a great job and to my sister Sheri Fox who has spent most of her working life in the industry. Sheri you deserve a great new place and nice office to work out of. Way to go sis.

  3. I have to give a “thumbs up” to my niece, Megan Jaros. She’s been a dispatcher since 2005 with this organization. Lookin’ good, kiddo!

  4. I will reword my commentary about bitching and turn it into positive commentary with the FAA. I am sorry about my unnecessary gruffness…..

  5. Nice write up Bill! This new center is a culmination of many folks efforts in the Black Hills, especially yours, that helped put into motion one of the best interagency efforts I have ever been a part of.

  6. Well, Well, Well

    An interagency dispatch center gets the boot from the FAA for issues of airport self sufficiency and revenue.

    Seems to be fitting for an organization(s) who have sent 2 aerospace industries (H&P, AUC) packing.

    Whether the letter or stance of the FAA is troubling, time for other agencies to accept the position of a very powerful organization as viewed by pilots and mechanics. So it is about time a dispatch center gets the full affect of the FAA’s power.

    So you get a brand new facility with possibly P25 compliant communications, new classroooms,blah,blah

    What to bitch about? Think about the 160 to 200 pilots, mechanics, and support personnel that were let go from AUC midsummer 2011 before anyone in Rapid City bitches about being “evicted.” At least those folks in the Dispatch Center are still working and in new digs yet!


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