Deadwood’s Volunteer Fire Department celebrated a remarkable individual Sunday, October 8 by organizing a parade in his honor. Mention the name Jerry Pontius to any resident of Deadwood, and you’re likely to hear nothing but praise.
Jerry Pontius has been a dedicated member of the Deadwood Volunteer Fire Department for an astonishing 60 years, beginning his service in 1963 and remaining an active member to this day.
How have things changed in 60 years? “When I started out, the protective clothing was maybe a bunker coat, and we had World War 2 gas masks for air. At the time, we thought that was great, but they weren’t really doing anything.” Pontius said. “Now we have a full suite of protective equipment, a compressed air breathing apparatus if we need it.”
Throughout his six decades of service, Pontius has not only been the Fire Chief but also a mentor and an invaluable team player.
Fire Chief Alex Hamann said, “Jerry’s very respected in the department. A lot of the younger members go to him for help with equipment… He’s very knowledgeable about firefighting. He actually has worked several different fires over the years, including the Grizzly Gulch fire in 2002.”
To honor Pontius’s exceptional accomplishment, the Deadwood VFD organized a parade. Other fire departments, including those from Pennington, Meade, Butte, and Lawrence Counties, came to show their support. Even the Mayor of Deadwood, David Ruth, Jr. declared October 8th, 2023, as Jerry Pontius Day.
Notably, this celebration doesn’t mark Pontius’s retirement; he intends to continue assisting when he can. He remarked, “It’s been a great ride. As long as they have me, I can still drive the truck and operate pumps, so I’m not running into burning buildings anymore.”