Rural/Metro is the national leader in private fire protection services to dozens of unincorporated communities around the nation, including several in Arizona, Tennessee and Oregon. We are also the recognized expert in on-site industrial fire protection services, including airports, manufacturing plants and oil refineries. We are proud to include FedEx, Citgo and Alcoa among our customers.
When combined with our ambulance services, Rural/Metro is a national leader with services in 21 states and more than 690 communities from coast to coast.
One evening in 1948, Lou Witzeman watched his neighbor's house go up in flames because there was no fire protection in his small, unincorporated community. He knew something had to be done.
Lou pooled together some money, bought a fire truck, and began the operation of a four-man fire department. He couldn't collect taxes, so he went door to door, asking his neighbors to subscribe by paying an annual fee. "There was no master plan in forming the company," Witzeman said. "I simply needed fire protection for my neighborhood, and I was determined to get it."
His idea turned out to be a solution for many surrounding communities. "I never expected the company to grow so big," Witzeman said. "I just wanted to provide my neighborhood with fire protection. But soon I began to realize that I had really stumbled onto something. I found that the established ways of providing services were not as efficient as they could be. So Rural/Metro's cause became to look for new and better ways to do the job ... for less money."
Lou encouraged creativity, and explored different methods to meet each of his client communities' particular needs. In fact, finding ways to deliver cost-effective service based on needs became Rural/Metro's primary mission, which remains with the company today.
In 1978, Witzeman sold Rural/Metro to his employees through a unique employee stock ownership plan. In July 1993, Rural/Metro began trading its stock on the NASDAQ stock market. And in June 2011, the Company was acquired by the global private equity firm Warburg Pincus, LLC.