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 support was requested twice in the following years to increase funding for District operations.
The formation of the Fire District brought together approximately eight pieces of fire apparatus and twenty to thirty firefighters 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 fifty four pieces of apparatus including thirteen engines, eleven tankers, thirteen grass fire units, six UTVs, fifteen support vehicles, one mobile air cascade unit, one rescue unit, and three 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 twelve stations, which are located in or near Warrensburg, Leeton, Chilhowee, Knob Noster, Centerview, Valley City, Columbus, Fayetteville, Cornelia, and Burtville. The Chief and Assistant Chief serve as full time employees leading approximately one hundred forty volunteer personnel including the Division Chief-Training and Safety, four Battalion Chiefs, two training Captains, five training Lieutenants, twelve station Captains, eleven station Lieutenants, and over one hundred firefighters.
On April 1, 2019, three new full-time positions were added to the District including one full-time Captain and two full-time firefighters. 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.