South Montgomery County Fire Department
Emergency Services District #8

History of Department

In the beginning… The South Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1974 as a Rural Fire Protection District and was staffed by volunteers and contracted fire services. For a short time in its beginning it was known as Oak Ridge North Volunteer Fire Department. With monetary donations and the generosity of the area citizens and merchants the first members of the department secured a small piece of property from Montgomery County located at 27430 Robinson Road, Conroe, TX 77385 where they built their first station.

In their first year they also bought a new Ford/Ward LaFrance pumper with a 750 GPM Hale pump and a 500 gallon tank. A donated fuel truck was converted to a "Tanker" and a donated Southwestern Bell 1/2 ton utility truck was converted to a "Rescue Truck". 

Prior to the current ESD managed department there were a few first that the volunteers worked very hard on and still continue today:
   ? FIRST FD in Montgomery County to have a foam system on our apparatus,
   ? FIRST outside of the City of Houston to have a Thermal Imaging Camera,
   ? FIRST using the 45 active volunteers to have an internationally recognized Fire Prevention                   

Over time growth of the area served by the department exploded. The department could no longer rely solely on donations to support the department. In 1978, by a vote of the residents, Montgomery County Rural Fire Prevention District # 8 was formed. This income from property taxes afforded for more capital expenditures to take place. A second station was added on Rayford Road in the Fox Run area. A second engine was purchased, a factory built tanker was purchased and a purpose built rescue truck was added along with a complete set of "Jaws" extrication tools. During this time a third station, "Central Station", was opened, a second tanker and a 65' Quint were purchased in an eighteen month period around 1985. Upon occupying the new station in 1985 the first employee of SMCVFD was hired. The department again upgraded its fleet with the purchase of two new engines in 1995 and a third new engine in 1999. By this time the department had paid firefighters and had Stations #1 and #2 manned fulltime

In 2009, Emergency Services District #8 took over the fire department and hired Fire Chief Robert Hudson as their first full-time paid Fire Chief. Chief Hudson then appointed Michael Johnson as his part-time Assistant Chief to assist in overseeing the daily operations and manpower of 3 Captains, and 6 firefighters.

Fire and first-response emergency medical services (EMS) are the responsibility of Montgomery County Emergency Services District #8. The ESD is the parent organization and the financial umbrella over the South Montgomery County Fire Department.

Emergency Service District #8 Response District… A 53 square mile response district with an estimated service population of 87,000. The District is currently covered from Five career staffed fire stations with 2 more planned in the coming years.

What is an ESD & where do ESD’s get their funding… A political subdivision of the State of Texas, similar to a school district. It is not a part of County government, but works closely in cooperation with the County. ESD’s can levy a property tax not to exceed 10 cents per $100 of property value. On a home taxed at $200,000 of value, the ESD receives a total tax of $200 per year-just more than $16.50 per month. With this funding level, the ESD attempts to provide appropriate levels of trained, professional fire fighters and state-of-the-art emergency equipment to respond to your emergencies!

Fire Administration & Staffing… Growth in this department has come in many ways and the largest part being personnel. The current Fire Administration consists of the Fire Chief, one Assistant Chief, one Deputy Chief of Operations, 2 Battalion Chiefs, (Emergency Preparedness, and Safety and Training), one Fire Prevention Manager (Inspections/Fire Prevention), 2 Fire Inspectors, One Personnel Manager, one logistics officer, three Maintenance Technicians, one Community Risk Reduction Officer, and one Executive Assistant.

Current Operational Daily Staffing is 29. This is far grown from the 2009 where there were 7 firefighters per shift. This staffing man’s five fire stations on a 24-hour shift. The breakdown is: one Battalion Chief, one Safety Officer, five Lieutenants, eight Engineer / Operators, and fourteen Firefighters per day.

Changing of Response… Prior to the change in personnel status the apparatus was pulled by what volunteers the department had left. Beyond this, we relied on our mutual/automatic aid partners every day for assistance. It was not uncommon to have only one (1) apparatus and four (4) personnel from our department on a working structure fire. Today, thanks to the public supporting the “1 cent sales tax” financial increase of funding the department respond’s with 18 career firefighters, five apparatus and a Battalion Chief and initial aid from surrounding departments.

Fire Chief’s History… Since the creation of the Fire Department in 1974 there have been six Fire Chiefs. The first Chief was Rex Terry who served from 1974-1976. When Chief Terry moved to another city Chief Ralph Montgomery was elected in 1976 and served until Jimmy Williams was elected to be the 3rd Chief in 1979. Jimmy Williams served until Ricky Rogers, the 4th Fire Chief was elected in 1990. Chief Rogers served as Fire Chief from 1990-2003, when Johnny Webb was elected and served from 2003 to 2009.  Once the ESD took over the department they appointed Chief Robert Hudson as their first full-time career Fire Chief. 

Fire Safety Education… Our District is growing rapidly, and fire safety education provided to the community residents reduces the potential of fires and injuries. Our goal is to have a Fire Safety staff to work with businesses and citizens to enhance fire safety in the community. We currently offer Fire extinguisher training to businesses at no cost. We also attend many events in our district throughout the year.

Fire Inspection… This is an area that needs a lot of attention and the County Fire Marshal’s Office has adopted the 2012 International Fire Code for enforcement. Prior to this, serious life safety code violations were found and this change will brings several benefits such as: 1) these businesses will be up to fire code, eliminate work being done un-properly, and saving lives and property. ESD 8 has 2,500 businesses in its jurisdiction and our Fire Inspection division is working diligently with business owners and tenants to bring these businesses up to code. However, the staffing in the County Fire Marshal’s Office precludes dedicating personnel to our District. Therefore we have hired 4 Fire Inspectors. Whicn include 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, I Full time inspector & 1 Part time inspector.

Insurance Service Office… ISO grades communities on their fire protection and provides the information to insurance companies. They give a Public Protection Classification which ranges from a Class 1 (best) to Class 10 (worst).

After many hours and data collection, demonstrations and surveys, ESD 8 submitted an updated application. Texas Department of Insurance on November 11, 2010, gave notice from the Texas Department of Insurance that the new Class 2/10 grading class would take effect on April 1, 2011. Those buildings further than five miles from a fire station were graded a Class 10.

In 2012 ESD8 requested a re-grading from ISO which was reviewed / justified to ISO 1. Very few departments in the United States have ISO ratings of 1.


Fire Chiefs History

Chief Rex Terry 1974-1976

Chief Ralph Montgomery1976-1979

Chief Jim Williams  1979-1990

Chief Ricky Rogers 1990-2003

Chief Johnny Webb 2003-2009

Chief Robert Hudson 2009- Present