“Appreciation and remembrance are two vital tools that can advance our progress in life.”
― Wisdom Kwashie Mensah
The Highlands Fire District was created when the Kachina Village and Mountainaire Fire Districts merged in March of 1999. The district joins the communities of Kachina Village, Forest Highlands, Mountainaire, Lower Lake Mary Area, and Pine Del. Highlands Fire District serves a population of approximately 7,000 residents within a 25 square mile area.
In 1971 a structure fire in the newly developed Kachina Village destroyed a home. As a result, a committee was formed to organize a volunteer fire department. Fred Tryon was the only resident with fire fighting training, so he was asked to become the first Fire Chief. With the help of several concerned citizens, the Kachina Village Volunteer Fire Company was established. By July of 1972 a tax supported fire district was approved by resident voters and Coconino County Board of Supervisors.
The Department’s first vehicle was a 1947 Ford Truck donated by Kachina Village’s developer. Soon after a 1946 Mack Engine was purchased. Construction on the first fire station began in 1975. During the District’s meager beginnings, many bake sales, donations, and volunteer labor enabled the completion of Station 1.
The fire station was remodeled in 1990 to better accommodate the 24-hour emergency service center it had grown to become. Construction on Station 2, located on the north side of Kachina Village, broke ground in 1981.
In 1988 the newly developed Forest Highlands community joined the Kachina Village Fire District. Forest Highlands is an exclusive golf community located to the northwest of Kachina Village. The community is predominantly comprised of vacation homes with few full-time residents. The Forest Highlands Home Owner Association has implemented numerous strategies to reduce the risk of fire. They became one of the first four Firewise communities in Arizona.
Mountainaire is located directly east of Kachina Village and I-17 Originally it was also established as a vacation home community, and it has become a year-round residential area. The Mountainaire Volunteer Fire Department was organized in the late 1960s, and they broke ground on their first fire station in 1974. The residents of Mountainaire voted to establish a fire district in 1976. Throughout the history of the Kachina Village and Mountainaire Fire Districts, cooperation across boundaries was important to the success of each department.
The merger of Kachina Village and Mountainaire Fire Districts became a topic of discussion in the 1990s. The discussion gathered momentum when Chief Brady of Mountainaire resigned and Chief Pond of Kachina Village stepped in to serve an interim Fire Chief assignment. After two years in this
dual capacity, the next step was to merge the districts. This was accomplished in 1999, and Highlands Fire District was formed.
In 2005 Highlands Fire District expanded its boundaries to include property in the Lower Lake Mary Area. Fire Station.24 was established in a resident’s steel framed warehouse to accommodate a fire engine and volunteer fire company.
Pine Del Estates, located to the north of Forest Highlands, had originally organized as a fire district that contracted with the City of Flagstaff for fire protection. Highlands Fire District began providing emergency services when Pine Del and Highlands Fire Districts merged in December of 2005.
In 2008 Fire Station 25 went in-service in Forest Highlands. The Fuels Management Crew evolved into the Bear Jaw Crew. The Bear Jaw Crew is an interagency team from Highlands and Pinewood Fire Districts that provide fuels management in the respective fire districts as well as responding to State and Federal wildland fires.
In 2010 Fire Station 23 went in-service in Mountainaire. The Bear Jaw Fuels Crew began utilizing the Station 22 on Kiowa.
Highlands Fire District has supported the concept of functional regionalization to ultimately improve emergency services in the greater Flagstaff area: In April 2012 IGA established with Flagstaff Ranch Fire District to provide emergency fire and medical services. A 2014 IGA established to provide Fort Tuthill Recreational Area with emergency fire and medical services.
In June 2014 Dirch Foreman was promoted to serve as Fire Chief.
In June 2018 construction began on a new facility for Administration and Bear Jaw Crew, and was completed in January 2019. Fire Stations 21 and 22 were sold. The Master Plan implemented to reduce the District‘s environmental footprint and integrate services was accomplished. These momentous, modern improvements will carry emergency services well into the future.
In January 2020 Coronavirus began spreading in the U.S. , and a world wide pandemic took hold. The District has maintained fire protection and life safety systems throughout. Critical incident plans were established to help mitigate impact and safely protect personnel and community. The District continues to manage these challenges.
In December 2021 Todd Miller was promoted to serve as Fire Chief.