HIGH RIDGE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
By: Bill Haggard
In 1940, the communities of High Ridge, Murphy and House Springs, did not have a fire department.† In the event of a fire, residents would call on the Fenton Fire Department and hope that they would respond.† In 1941, after a house burned to the ground, local residents decided to form the High Ridge Fire Association.
The new association was completely funded by donations.† On February 26, 1941, an E. Brackmann wrote the first check to the association for the purchase of needed equipment.† The first fire house for the High Ridge Association was not much larger than a two car garage and did not have any restroom facilities.† The first fire truck the association purchased was a 1918 Packard.† A siren located at the fire station would alert the volunteers when a call was reported.† The volunteers would respond to the fire house and do their best to get the truck running and then head for the fire.
In those days, the protective clothing for the volunteers consisted of ankle-length, black rubber rain coats.† At that time, the volunteers had little or nor training in fighting fires.† The early volunteers were also confronted with little or no available water to fight the fires.† Some of the residents had wells which were not much help in fighting fires.† Other residents had rain cisterns that were beneficial if they could be accessed.†† Some cisterns were located under garages that might be involved in the fire.† If there was a close neighbor you could get water from their cistern or possibly from a nearby lake.† In those days, there were no hydrants available for firefighting.† In later years, the association added a 1946 Chevrolet pumper and then a 1951 White front-mount pump that could bring the water to the fire.†
In the mid-1950s, a much larger fire house was built not far from the original one. This firehouse was constructed with association funds, donations and a large amount of volunteer help.† At that time, the fire association was funded by a fire tag system.† In 1968, the tag system drew national attention related to how the tag system worked, or rather, didnít work.† In 1969, the Missouri State Legislature passed a law that allowed fire associations, like the High Ridge Fire Association, to form a fire protection district.† In April of 1970, the voters of the High Ridge community approved the formation of a tax supported fire protection district.† †With the inception of the fire district, funding for firefighting doubled and allowed the district to be able to handle any type of fire.
The following men have served as Fire Chief of the High Ridge Fire Association: Walter Weber, Julius Petry, Bob Hood, and Elmer McCoy.† Fire Chiefs of the High Ridge Fire Protection District include Elmer McCoy, Jack Karg, Steve Davis and current Fire Chief Mike Arnhart.
Today, the High Ridge Fire Protection District has four 24-hour manned stations with 34 full-time firefighters, part-time and volunteer firefighters.† The district is also supported by a very active auxiliary association.