East Missoula
Rural Fire Department


The East Missoula Rural Fire District was organized in April, 1948. The original volunteer roster included founding residents of the East Missoula area such as:

Olaf Hilmo Sr. – President
Mr. Kline (No first name) – Secretary Treasurer
Mr. Euensale
Pat O’Hara
Roland Fontaine
Clarence Jerame
Henry Roseth Sr.
Ole Lerback
Bill Harris
Clifford M. Read
Ruhben Denning
Burtram Nelson
Charles Wagner
George D. Sherry
Rolly Greff
Merlin Stensrud
John Shively
Lester Clark
Bob Jerome
Chas Pitts
Mike Caren
Ervin H. Galland
S.W. Trollinger
Almer Jones
B.J. Tintzman
Ray Sommers
Ivan Wiggin
J.P. O’Hara
C.R. Hurlburt
William D. Randles
David Carpenter
Harvey Galland

Original East Missoula Fire Company Charter, September, 1949Some of these names can be seen around the streets of East Missoula, as a reminder of the early years when our community was first established.

In January of 1949, EMRFD purchased the first piece of apparatus, a small truck with a motor-driven pump. This was stored at the truck stop in town and at Cliff Read’s shop for the first winter. A larger water tank was installed on the truck in April, 1949, and ladder racks were added to make it East Missoula’s first official fully-functional fire engine.

Later in 1949, the first East Missoula fire station was built on land belonging to the Community Club. By September of 1949, the East Missoula Volunteer Fire Company was formed and the official charter was filed with Missoula County.

First East Missoula Fire Department station and engine, ca. 1949 Hank Roseth then became the first Fire Chief of the newly organized East Missoula Fire Company.

Funds for the first pieces of fire equipment came from annual membership dues for the flourishing department. The fire company also held dances, card parties, raffles, and community dinners – the Annual East Missoula Community Spaghetti Dinner being the last remaining annual event of its kind today.

In its early years, the East Missoula Fire Company was called to fires in Missoula, the Rattlesnake area, Pine Grove, Milltown, and Orchard Homes. Many of these early arrangements have built the lasting relationships we have with Missoula City Fire Department and Missoula Rural Fire District to this day.

In 1957, a second engine was added for fire responses. This engine was equipped with a pump and 600 gallon tank, making it the larger of two engines operated by the fire company. Soon after, a Lady’s Auxiliary was formed. The Lady’s Auxiliary assisted with fundraising efforts and Fire Company events for many years to come.

In the early years, the East Missoula Volunteer Fire Company was the only all-volunteer fire department active in Missoula County. To this day, the EMRFD is the longest operating all-volunteer district in Missoula and we’re proud to recognize our history.

Throughout the years, the EMRFD has grown and expanded to become the fully-modern fire department that it is today. Through the assistance of grant money provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the EMRFD received the first new structure engine in 2005, fully funded by the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Fund. This engine was soon followed in 2008 by a wildland response engine provided by grant funds through Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Finally, in 2012, a levy was passed by our community in support of the purchase of a second structure engine to better serve our community and the ever-increasing demands of the modern fire service.

The EMRFD takes pride in the original volunteer spirit inspired by our founding members. We are supported entirely by a volunteer membership and volunteer Fire Board to this day. We are still very active in our community outside of emergency response scenarios, providing public education, public events, and thousands of hours of volunteer service in our community annually.

Early EMRFD apparatus, no date.The EMRFD remains the primary emergency response entity in our community of approximately 2,070 residents; however, we maintain mutual and automatic aid agreements with surrounding jurisdictions meaning we can typically be seen in Bonner, West Riverside, and surrounding areas. We currently respond to more than 300 calls for emergency service annually and operate with a membership of 15 to 20 volunteers.

Please visit our Volunteers page for information on how you can join our department today.

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