1968, it June was a hot, dry breezy summer day when a resident decided to burn some trash behind his house on Sycamore Lane. He thought he had everything under control when he went in for a drink of water. But the wind picked up and the fire grew and spread to the neighbor’s house. The neighbor was asleep and got out with only the clothes on his back. He was able to move his car and that was all that was saved. The fire destroyed his house and continued to burn weeds and trees until it came to Cottonwood Dr. where the road stopped it. The forest Service and Camp Verde Fire Department showed up at about this time to finish putting it out.
This event got the Property Owners’ Association motivated to pursue starting their own fire department. On Feb 10, 1969 an election was held and everyone voted to go forward.
Equipment & Buildings:
Three fire trucks arrived in June of 1969. Two 1969 small Ford fire trucks with 250 gallons of water & a 1954, 1500 gal tanker. Water for the trucks was supplied by two standpipe locations, Zuni Way and Montezuma Haven. The AZ Water Company after 2 years of negotiation agreed to donate 2 fire hydrants. (Zuni and Saddlebag). Six more were installed by late 1976.
The residents of both towns wanted their name represented in the FD name so the name became Montezuma Rimrock Fire District
2 buildings were completed and rented to the FD in 1970; one on Montezuma Ave and one on Beaver Creek RD. The FD bought them in 1982.
May of 1970 a Rescue Squad was formed with 4 members
In May of 1971 a large bar-B-Q event was put on to raise money to buy a Class A ambulance. Over $18,000 was raised over the next two years with this event, many bake sells, yard sells and another Bar-B-Q.
March 1972 the first ambulance was purchased for $9,000. 8 people took the weekend EMT class. On May 30, 1972 MRFD’s new Ambulance went into service. MRFD’s CON # 3.
In 1976 a new fire truck was purchased (the 1954 one died). With this fire truck MRFD could apply for their first I.S.O. rating. (9/10)
Feb 1979 a non-profit organization was formed to except donations for the FD, the Montezuma Rimrock Rescue Fund.
1984 two new bays were added to the Montezuma station and a repeater station was installed on Indian hill.
1984 received a new ambulance. This was a van style, the old one looked like a station wagon. Around $10,000 from the Rescue Fund was used to equip it.
In 1985 MRFD had it’s first IEMT, 1986 added two more IEMTs and in 1988 had their first Paramedic.
November 1986 Larry Wright elected as Chief
In 1988 a second ambulance was bought, similar to the 1986 one.
In the late 80s the volunteers started getting pay a very small amount every December, $2 to $5 per the amount of calls that they had responded on. The Fire Chief started getting paid a small amount ($18,000) to be a part time Chief.
November 1993 Kent Courtney elected as Chief
08/16/94 – went from an elected Chief to a 5 person elected board.
Nov. 1994 – the first full time paramedic / FF was hired (Bonnie Reay)
1995 – 1998 Bought the Old Post Office building next to the station on Beaver Creek RD which became the FD office. This building was burned down in 1997 to make room for our current building. Added personnel to have three shifts (24/48 schedule) with one Paramedic on each shift.
End of 1998 the new fire station on Beaver Creek Rd was completed.
In 1999 added three EMTs to have two people on each shift.
In the 2000 – 2005 added staff, 1 admin, 3 on each shift and 1 receptionist. Bought a new Engine and ambulance.
2005 – 2013 promoted Captains and Engineers, hired an assistant Chief, bought another engine and ambulance then the economy dropped and we lost personnel due to leaving for better jobs & other reasons. Lost the Assistant Chief, 2 admin, 2 line personnel and the dream to build another station.
July 2012 – Chief Van Dyke retired. Dale Duns became the intern Chief
Feb. 2013 – Terry Keller hired as Chief
2014 – started shared services with Camp Verde Fire District; Shared the Chief, admin personnel & Fire Marshall.
2015 – Major remodel of station living quarters funded by the auxiliary and a very generous resident.
2016 – bought a new ambulance (one of the others blew an engine).
May 2016 – The shared services continued to grow until the two departments combined into the Copper Canyon Fire and Medical Authority department.
MONTEZUMA RIMROCK FIRE DISTRICT FIRE CHIEFS
3 Intern Chiefs
# 1 Robert Williams Sr April 1969 – Nov 1969 7 Months
# 2 Stu Henderson Nov 1969 – June 1972 7 Months
# 3 Eddie Lodge June 1972 – Nov 1986 15 years
# 4 Larry Wright Nov 1986 – Nov 1993 7 years
# 5 Kent Courtney Oct 1993 – Jan 2000 6 years
Intern # 1 Micheal Renna Feb 2000 – April 2000 3 months
# 6 David Marshall April 2000 – August 2000 4 months
Intern # 2 Carl Layman Sept 2000 – Nov 2000 3 months
# 7 Michael Van Dyke Nov 2000 – July 2012 12 years
Intern # 3 Dale Duns July 2012 – Feb 2013 5 months
# 8 Terry Keller Feb 2013 –
All of the Chiefs were elected until August 1994 when the community elected a
5 person board who would then hire the Chief
1970 = 13
1971 = 71
1988 = 223
1999 = 650
2014 = 1050
One 2 bay building on Montezuma Ave. & one 1 bay building on Beaver Creek Rd (area of the present parking lot). Both buildings were built for the department on lots owned by residents who then rented the buildings to the FD. In 1982 the FD bought both buildings. Sometime around 1995 the district purchased the building in Rimrock which was the old Rimrock Post Office and turned it into the fire station office. A few years later this building was burned down so the current station could be built. The new station was completed at the end of 1998. MRFD bought a lot on Cliffside Tr behind the motel in Lake Montezuma in the mid 2000s with the intention of building another station, then the economy dropped and there were no funds to build it.
MRFD started with untrained community volunteers to fight fires in 1969.
In the 1980s they started sending people to Yavapai college to be trained in structural firefighting which then was a one day a week semester class. Today’s firefighters receive the following training: FF 1 & 2, Haz Mat, wild land, water and rope rescue, trench rescue and confined space.
May of 1970 the Montezuma Rimrock Rescue Squad was formed with 4 members who had taken a one day Red Cross class.
In 1972 8 more people attended a weekend class to be trained to work on the ambulance.
By 1979 there was now an organized EMT training put on by Yavapai College which was 8 hours a week for a semester.
In 1985 2 Intermediate EMTs volunteers were added which added advanced medical capabilities such as IV and medications to treat the ill & injured.
In 1988 MRFD had their first Paramedic volunteer which added the cardiac component to medical treatment.
By 2015 of the 12 full time personnel 7 were Paramedics.
When the fire district was first formed all the residents were given the phone numbers of a few people who volunteered to be “dispatchers”. When there was an emergency a “dispatcher” was called, they would get the address and a little information then would start calling the list of volunteer firefighters until they had enough to respond.
In 1970 a siren was mounted at Montezuma Chapel and an emergency number was given to the department (567-4567). Anywhere from 5–10 volunteers had a “red” phone installed at their homes with this number and residents were told to call that number in an emergency. Different people were assigned different days to answer, but if it rang more than 2 times anyone could answer. The person who answered would get the information, set off the siren, then they would start calling the volunteer people from the list. The first person to the station would write the address on a chalk board and proceed to the call.
By 1984 the FD had purchased two way radios, had received an emergency radio frequency, had put up a tower and had a base station established at Bill Scharch’s home. The red phones were still in about 5-8 different places and used when the Scharch’s were not home. The radio system allowed for tones to be set off right after the emergency information was received. Everyone with a radio would hear what and where the problem was and then would go to the call or station to get a vehicle. The siren was still set off when there was a fire for a while longer then it was just used at noon on Saturday.
Sometime in the late 80s or early 90s MRFD contracted with the Camp Verde Marshalls Office to dispatch for them using the 911 number. After a few years Sedona Fire became the dispatch center for the whole Verde Valley. In September 2015 Sedona Dispatch closed their doors and Cottonwood Dispatch Center started dispatching for MRFD.