David “Dave” Ruhl was born on May 9, 1977, in Thornton, Colorado, to John Ruhl and Pamela Sachs. He graduated in 1995 from Whitewater High School in Whitewater, Wisconsin, and immediately joined the United States Coast Guard. He was an MK2 machinery technician on active duty during the Gulf War and was stationed on the USCG Mackinaw and USCG Chippewa. Dave was honorably discharged in 1999.
Dave moved to Pierre, South Dakota, and joined the volunteer fire department, including the rural fire department and rescue dive squad, to meet new people. He met his wife, Erin, while working for the Department of Corrections as a correctional officer. He loved to tell the story that he “met his wife in prison.” Dave and Erin were married on October 23, 2004, and blessed with two children, Tyler and Ava.
Dave’s career with the U.S. Forest Service began in May 2001 with the Fort Pierre National Grassland as a seasonal firefighter, rising to the rank of assistant engine captain. In 2008, he transferred to the Dubois Ranger District in Dubois, Idaho, and became an engine captain. In 2010, he transferred to the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest. Dave completed many trainings and courses, and his proudest accomplishment was completing Technical Fire Management. He also passed along his knowledge to anyone who asked, along with teaching classes.
Dave loved being outdoors and could never really sit still. His hobbies included fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, hockey, or any other activity he could enjoy with his family and friends. Dave had a deep love for his faith, family, and life as a firefighter.
Dave took a 120-day detail as battalion chief on the Modoc National Forest, located in Adin, California. On July 30, 2015, he responded to the Frog Fire Incident, where contact with him was lost after he was scouting the fire on foot. Dave was recovered on the morning of July 31, 2015.
Dave loved every aspect of his life, but none was more important to him than his family. Whether he was at home involved in fires or several states away, he always checked in with his family to get updates on their activities and to let them know he was OK. Dave loved joking around and always had his favorite people to “pick on.” His laugh and sense of humor will be missed by everyone who knew him.