District Information - Introduction

On May 30, 1945, House Bill 757 created the Lee County Fire Control District, which covered all unincorporated lands in Lee County except Boca Grande. The Lee County Commission was the fire control board at that time and levied taxes to support the District which operated from 1945 until 1962. At that time, only two fire fighters were employed by the County at a fire truck station that has since become the city of Fort Myers Central Fire Station off of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in downtown Fort Myers. In 1962, the Lee County Board of Commissioners and the City of Fort Myers entered into an agreement to pay the City of Fort Myers for fire control service on a percentage basis against the number of calls made outside the City limits. This agreement lasted until October 1, 1971. In the meantime, a 16 man volunteer fire department and rescue squad was created on April 28, 1965, to meet the growing demand for fire service in what was referred to as the Iona McGregor area, or southwest Lee County. In September, 1965, this newly formed Iona-McGregor Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, as it was called, was officially chartered as a non-profit Florida corporation. Equipment for the Squad was provided by the Florida Forest Service. By the end of 1970, growth in the Iona-McGregor area created the need for a fire station and Station 71 was constructed at Winkler Road and McGregor Boulevard. The department had purchased a pumper truck and a chief’s car to service the area. 24 hours service began December 31, 1971, when the first fully paid employee went on duty. In 1972, a second pumper truck and a small attack rescue vehicle were purchased. In 1974, a lot for a second fire station was purchased off McGregor Boulevard to the south near Water Lane and in 1975 the second paid employee was added. By this time, area residents realized the need for a paid fire protection service district and on November 4, 1975, voters in the area approved the creation of the Iona-McGregor Fire Protection and Rescue Service District. The District would be part of the Special Independent Districts’ of Florida and would levy a District ad valorem tax for its primary source of income.

In February, 1977, Fire Station #72 was opened, and in that year the District began providing its first regular rescue service. Seven paid firefighters were hired along with a paid Chief, a paid Fire Marshal, and a secretarial assistant. In 1978, the District was the first fire district to create a fire prevention bureau. As of August 8, 1978, the ISO classification was reduced to Class 7 from the previous classifications of 10 and 9-AA, reflecting the increase in service delivery to area residents. Through the development over the years, the District’s rating improved to a 4. Then we went under another review in 2014 and were rerated as an ISO 2. This was a huge accomplishment for the District and it was made through the efforts of all the employees. The ISO is a national insurance engineering service organization that assigns a public protection classification (PPC) to jurisdictions based on fire agency services and the rating is a metric that is used by insurance companies nationally as a standard for their premiums. The Class 2 rating could potentially have an effect on homeowners’ insurance rates. Commercial and industrial properties may also benefit. Some of the Class 2 requirements are; to have buildings located within five miles of a fire station and to have a fire hydrant located within 1,000 feet. Some other requirements that are considered are staffing, fire training, how often apparatus are maintained and tested, personnel training, public education, emergency dispatching and communications, and the equipment on engines.

Through the 1980’s, two attempts to increase the flat rate millage for the District failed, the first in 1981 and the second in 1982. In 1983, the District’s voters approved a switch to a millage system, providing a better and more responsive funding source for the District infrastructure, personnel, and maintenance. With this change, the District was able to move to a professionally based district, and in 1986, the Iona-McGregor Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. was officially disbanded. Also, during 1986, the District purchased its first aerial apparatus. Through the growth of the District’s population and the increase in call volume and demand of services, the District has steadily increased the number of employees to the present level of 100.

In 1990, Fire Station #73 opened on Winkler Road with a complete suite of administrative offices, maintenance facilities, and a fitness and training center. At this time in IMFD’s history, the District had four Pierce engines, three Dodge rescue trucks, one Grumman ladder truck, one Pierce telesquirt, and nine other support vehicles as well as a 25’ fire/rescue boat. In 2003, Station 74 was opened and it is located at South Pointe Boulevard and College Parkway. It was at this time that the Administration moved from Station 73 to Station 74 and a fully operational Fire Prevention Bureau was housed at the offices of Station 73. In 2009, the District’s call volume for the southwest end was growing above capacity to provide as quick of a response as the District liked. At the same time the County’s Tax Collector, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and the Sheriff’s Office all needed new facilities as well. A plot of 9 acres was found on Pine Ridge Road and Gladiolus that was owned by the County and together the four agencies created a plan to fulfill all their needs. It was at this time, in 2010, that Station 75 was opened. This station would significantly drop the call volume for 3 of the 4 other stations and would also decrease the response time within all of these zones. Each jurisdiction paid a percentage toward the cost of the construction and continues for the operation of their building.

Currently, all nine of our front line engine, tower, and rescue units are advanced life support and we run about 12,000 calls a year.