RDO awards grants to volunteer fire departments

R.D. Offutt Company and RDO Equipment Co.
Farm Forum

SIOUX FALLS — RDO Equipment Co. announces six South Dakota volunteer fire departments are the recipients of grants through a special Volunteer Fire Department focus of its Community Builder program, a unique initiative supported by the Offutt Family Foundation and open to employees of R.D. Offutt Company, parent company of RDO Equipment Co. and R.D. Offutt Farms.

All R.D. Offutt Company team members who are active volunteer firefighters were invited to apply for a Community Builder grant. As part of the application, the employee explained how the grant will benefit the local community along with information about his/her personal commitment to the fire department. The Community Builder grant applications in South Dakota will be used to address various, crucial needs of the fire departments, including purchase of new gear, and construction and expansion.

The six fire departments receiving grants and RDO Equipment Co. team members who submitted applications are:

• Aberdeen Rural Fire Protection District – Jorge Wieting, RDO Equipment Co., Aberdeen.

• Colton Fire and Rescue – Kurt Anderson, RDO Equipment Co., Sioux Falls.

• Doland Fire Department – Stephen Marlow, RDO Equipment Co., Redfield.

• Frankfort Fire Department – Rick Ratigan, RDO Equipment Co., Redfield.

• Redfield Rural Fire Department – Kerry Baird, RDO Equipment Co., Redfield.

• Wallace Fire Department – Ben Nelson, RDO Equipment Co., Webster.

Community Builder applications are submitted year-round and awarded twice a year. Because of the number of team members who donate time to their local volunteer fire department, this fall’s round of submissions was specially designated for rural and volunteer fire departments.

“The response we received was overwhelming and speaks to the great needs our communities have in providing resources to volunteer fire departments,” Jean Zimmerman, executive vice president of RDO Equipment Co., said. “Supporting our communities is important to the Offutt Family Foundation and these grants will greatly impact, not just the volunteer fire departments, but the citizens who rely on this crucial community service.”

In addition to RDO Equipment Co.’s efforts to recognize and award impactful grants to volunteer fire departments, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, is pleased to support the initiative.

“Volunteer firefighters respond to complex emergencies at a moment’s notice, and they do so without any expectation of reward,” Heitkamp said. “Too often, these dedicated first responders find they are combatting fires with equipment that has far outlived its expiration date. That’s why I want to thank RDO Equipment Co. for recognizing the hard work of first responders and making sure volunteer fire departments have the proper tools to keep towns, businesses, and farms safe. I’m proud to support the Community Builder program, because continued investment in our rural volunteer first responders is a reliable investment in the safety and strength of our nation’s rural communities.”

A longtime advocate for rural and volunteer fire departments, Heitkamp introduced her RESPONSE Act, which became law in December 2016. The RESPONSE Act will help get first responders the tools and resources they need to handle hazardous incidents.

A total of 41 volunteer and rural fire departments across the R.D. Offutt Company footprint were awarded Community Builder grants.

Jorge Wieting and Brian Bjordal, store manager, RDO Equipment Co., Aberdeen (both holding the check) and the Aberdeen team presented the check to Mark Stoks, chief, Aberdeen Rural Fire Dept. Courtesy photo