“Appreciation and remembrance are two vital tools that can advance our progress in life.”
― Wisdom Kwashie Mensah
The Highlands Fire District was created in 1999 when the Kachina Village and Mountainaire Fire Districts merged. Today the District encompasses the communities of Kachina Village, Forest Highlands, Mountainaire, Lower Lake Mary Area, and Pine Del as well as providing service to Flagstaff Ranch and the Fort Tuthill Recreation Area.
Kachina Village is located on the west side of Interstate 17, six miles south of Flagstaff, Arizona. Kachina Village was originally developed in 1965 as a vacation home community, and the Kachina Village Volunteer Fire Department originally organized in 1972. The Kachina Village developer donated a lot for a fire station as well as the first “fire truck” – 1947 Ford Pick-up. Soon after, a 1946 Mack Fire Engine was purchased. Construction on Fire Station 1 began in 1975. During the District’s meager beginnings, many bake sales, donations, and volunteer labor enabled the completion of the fire station. In July of 1976, the department had their first Pancake Breakfast, which became a department tradition. Construction of Station 2 broke ground on the north side of the village in 1981.
Forest Highlands joined the Kachina Village Fire District in 1988. Forest Highlands is an exclusive golf community located on the northwest side of Kachina Village. The community is predominantly comprised of vacation homes with few full-time residents. The Forest Highlands Homeowners Association implemented numerous strategies to reduce the risk of fire. They are one of the first four Firewise Communities in Arizona.
Mountainaire is located directly east of Kachina Village and Interstate 17. Originally Mountainaire was also established as a vacation home community, but became 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 concept of merging Kachina Village and Mountainaire Fire Districts became a topic of discussion sometime in the early 1990s. The idea gathered momentum when Chief Brady of Mountainaire resigned, and Chief Pond of Kachina Village stepped in to serve as interim Fire Chief. After serving two years in this dual capacity, the Chief’s next step was to merge the Districts, and Highlands Fire District formed on March 31, 1999.
In 2005 Highlands Fire District expanded its boundaries to include property in the Lower Lake Mary Area. A resident’s steel framed warehouse was designated as Fire Station 24. Later that year, Highlands and Pine Del Fire Districts merged.
On December 7, 2008, the newly constructed Fire Station 25 went in-service in Forest Highlands. Property owners along Highway 89A began requesting the Fire Board include their property in the District. Also in 2008, the Fuels Management Crew evolved into the Bear Jaw Crew. The Bear Jaw Crew is an interagency team from Highlands, Pinewood, and Summit Fire Districts. They provide fuels management in the respective fire districts as well as respond to State and Federal wildland fire assignments.
On July 4, 2010 the newly constructed Fire Station 23 went in-service in Mountainaire. The station offered the capacity for a larger engine company, a community/training facility, and faster response times to emergencies on Interstate 17. The Bear Jaw Fuels Crew began utilizing the old Mounatinaire Station.
On May 21, 2010, Chief Jim Pond retired after serving the District for 30 years. Michael Bradley was promoted to served as Chief until he retired from the fire service in July 31, 2014.
Currently under the direction of Chief Dirch Foreman, the Highlands Fire District continues to take a leadership position in the formation of partnerships in the Greater Flagstaff Area. Mutual collaboration among emergency service providers helps to successfully combine resources, provides opportunity to discuss similar issues, and improves tactical operations and communications. Consistent with our vision to develop and maintain strategic partnerships, Highlands Fire District provides emergency services in Flagstaff Ranch and Fort Valley Recreation Area. We strongly support the concept of functional regionalization to ultimately improve emergency services in the Greater Flagstaff Area.