History of the Johnson County Fire Protection District
The campaign for the formation of the Johnson County Fire Protection District began in 1978. A unified system of fire protection was proposed to serve the approximate eastern two thirds of Johnson County excluding the cities of Warrensburg and Knob Noster. Following a successful campaign the public approved the formation of the District in November 1978 and it was officially established in January 1979 with the swearing in of the original Board of Directors: Billy Adams, James Baile and Larry Steinbach.
The creation of the Fire District combined the existing resources of the Johnson County Fire Department, Chilhowee Volunteer Fire Department, Leeton Volunteer Fire Department and the Rural Knob Noster Volunteer Fire Department. Fire District daily operations were placed under the direction of the County Fire Chief William P. Parsons who served as Chief until his retirement in 1995. An original tax assessment of thirty cents per one hundred dollar assessed value provided the District with its operating funds. The tax levy was decreased over the years to its lowest level of fourteen cents. Voter approval in 2001 authorized a total levy of thirty-six cents per one hundred dollar assessed value. Voter support was requested in 2007 and a $4.5 million bond was approved allowing the District to build and renovate fire stations and purchase additional personal safety equipment and fire apparatus.
The formation of the Fire District brought together approximately eight pieces of fire apparatus and twenty to thirty fire fighters from the combined departments. Through untold dedication and countless hours of donated time from the volunteers the District grew and continues to grow today. Currently the District operates over forty pieces of fire apparatus including eleven engines, ten tankers, twelve grass fire units, three UTVs, seven support vehicles, one mobile air cascade unit, a rescue unit, two water rescue support vehicles and two boats. The District also maintains a Safety House, which is available to all departments of the county for public education. The equipment is housed in eleven stations, which are located in or near Warrensburg, Leeton, Chilhowee, Knob Noster, Centerview, Valley City, Columbus, Fayetteville and Cornelia. The Chief and Assistant Chief serve as full time employees leading approximately one hundred forty volunteer personnel including the Division Chief-Training and Safety, five Battalion Chiefs, three training Captains, five training Lieutenants, ten station Captains, ten station Lieutenants and over one hundred fire fighters.
On April 1, 2019 four new full time positions were added to the District including one full time Captain and three full time fire fighters. These full time positions began supplementing responses from the District’s volunteers throughout the entire District for any call for service. These positions are on duty Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM to support daytime volunteer response.
Providing modern innovative fire suppression to all citizens of the District remains the primary focus of the District. Training of fire personnel and public education/awareness are two of the methods employed to help achieve this goal. With continued support from the public the Fire District will continue to change allowing equipment to be purchased and upgraded to provide the dedicated men and women of the volunteer force the best equipment to complete the various tasks required to provide service to the entire District.