Mario Perez and Joseph Weber, two members of the Milbank Fire and Rescue Team, traveled to Sturgis to honor fallen firefighter David Fischer. Fischer, 43, assistant chief of the Sturgis Fire Department, was killed by an exploding propane tank while battling a house fire in Tilford on September 7. Raymond Bachmeier 82, the owner of the home also died. Over 30 fire departments responded to the blaze.
As called for by tradition, members of the Sturgis Fire Department stayed with Fischer until the fire was brought under control. They then escorted his body to the funeral chapel in Sturgis. From that time until his internment, firefighters and first responders from various departments took turns standing watch in a 24-hour-a-day vigil. The teams of three to eight volunteered for eight hour shifts, rotating every 10 minutes.
Fischer had been a member of the volunteer fire department in Sturgis for 22 years. He also had been a member of the National Guard for 23 years, and currently served as a staff sergeant with the Rapid-City-based 82nd Civil Support Team. He was deployed to Iraq with the 216th Engineer Detachment Firefighting Team in 2004. Fischer had also worked with the Sturgis Ambulance Service.
Fischer’s funeral was held Friday, September 15, at Brown High School in Sturgis. First Responders from across the state filled the school and fire trucks and people holding flags or standing at attention lined the streets of Sturgis. Burial with military honors followed at Black Hills National Cemetery.
Milbank Fire Chief, Kevin Schuelke, responded to the loss of Fischer and the decision of his young team members to show their respect for their fellow firefighter by saying, “Brotherhood in fire service is an amazing thing. I have attended state schools and training and this guy was at many of them. My team and I appreciate Joseph and Mario making the trip to represent the Milbank Department.”
Fischer leaves behind his wife, Shawn, and seven children, Parker, Cayden (Chelsae), Bethany, Jace, Dawson, Steven, and Hunter. A fund has been set up at Black Hills Federal Credit Union to accept donations for the Fischer family.
Pictured: Mario Perez and Joseph Weber