SD DPS Names Jay Wickham New State Wildland Fire Director


Jay Wickham, a 24-year veteran of the wildland fire profession, has been named as the new director of the South Dakota State Wildland Fire Division by the Department of Public Safety.

Wickham, who had been serving as the division’s Deputy Director, replaced former Chief Jay Esperance who retired June 8. Wickham’s first day as the Division’s Chief was Friday, June 24.

“Since the Wildland Fire Division joined the Department of Public Safety last year, Jay Wickham has demonstrated his firefighting expertise and the leadership qualities to lead the Division” said DPS Cabinet Secretary Craig Price. “We are excited to work with Chief Wickham as the new Director. We have no doubt he will move the division forward in the coming months.”

Wickham has served in a variety of wildland fire management positions including dispatch and logistics, Fire Management Officer in both Mitchell and Custer, and District Office Operations Manager and Chief of Operations in Rapid City. Since January 2021, Wickham has been the Chief of Operations and Deputy Director involved in such duties as strategic planning, budget administration, regional/national fire coordination, and fire suppression.

“It has been an honor working for South Dakota Wildland Fire,” said Wickham. “I look forward to the future working with this great team of firefighters protecting the citizens of South Dakota and their property from wildfires.”

The Wildland Fire Division’s main goals are fire management and fire suppression. The division, based in Rapid City, has 74 employees including seasonal firefighters.

Wildland Fire is an agency of the Department of Public Safety.