Department News & Announcements

Fort Ellis Celebrates 50 Years With August 8th Picnic

Fort Ellis Reaches 50 Year Milestone

Much has changed in the world since 1969…  From cars to fashion, phones to the internet, life is more complex and this is certainly true for fire departments.  Back in the day, the fire service put out fires – end of story. Now firefighters are called upon to handle a myriad of emergency situations often having nothing to do with fires.  Car accidents and emergency medical calls make up the majority of work for Fort Ellis volunteers, along with hazardous materials, gas leaks and some fires as well.  

In 1969, residents had to pay a subscription fee for fire protection in an “opt-in” system.    The relic subscription signs still can be found on some homes in our area. To join, residents paid $100 plus $15 per year for fire protection.  Now residents are assessed fees as part of their taxes.

The photo above shows the department’s “new” truck in 1987 – though the truck was a 1952 engine compared with our current newest apparatus – Tender 1-5 – a 2009 fire hydrant on wheels.  Years ago, the protective gear did not include bunker pants or any of the other equipment standard today such as self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs), thermal imaging cameras, and modern, safe vehicles.  

In 1985, the department logged 21 calls; now volunteers respond to 250-300 per year.  Training has gone from once per month to every Tuesday night with many extra training opportunities offered throughout the year as well.  Volunteers are expected to keep current on both structural and wildland firefighting techniques, certifications in CPR and EMS (such as EMT), hazardous materials awareness, driver/operator proficiency and much more.

Fort Ellis Fire/Rescue has built upon its humble roots from the pioneers in 1969 to its 24 members and 10 apparatus today.  The department continues to be proud to serve our customers 24/7/365. Please join us at our station picnic on August 8th from 5-8 pm to celebrate our anniversary. We will have truck rides, children’s activities, and a cookout for all. More information can be found on our facebook page. The event is free and open to all.

Lauren Scull
RIP Chief Fredrick “Fred” M. Cady, 1942-2019

RIP Chief Fredrick “Fred” M. Cady, 1942-2019

Fred Cady, Fort Ellis chief from 2000-2009, died in May while in Denver following a short illness.  He was 77.  

Fred joined Fort Ellis in 1996 when the department operated on a shoestring budget, mostly utilizing hand-me-down equipment and homemade vehicles.  During his long tenure both as a firefighter and as chief, Fred transformed Fort Ellis Fire/Rescue writing grants for new trucks, personal protective equipment, such as bunker gear and self-contained breathing apparatus, and upgrading the way our volunteers train and respond to emergencies.  In addition, he devoted much personal time to improving Gallatin County’s radio communications systems and how first responder agencies worked together.

A retired electrical engineering professor at MSU-Bozeman, Fred authored textbooks, wrote manuals on HAM radio equipment and spent many years as a HAM radio operator.  He particularly loved serving in leadership on large wildland fires and he developed expertise in the planning role. Many area residents will remember Fred’s willingness to give freely of his time to assist with any need however small.  His legacy in both the Gallatin County and statewide fire service is legendary and he leaves a large hole in the hearts of all Fort Ellis firefighters and board members.  

Fred is survived by his wife, Katie, a former Fort Ellis board member, and daughter, Beth. A celebration of his life is planned for September 8th, 2019 at Lindley Park in Bozeman. More information will be forthcoming on the Fort Ellis website and Facebook page.

Lauren Scull
Free 'Hands-Only' CPR class to be hosted at Fort Ellis Fire Station Monday 2-25.

Would you know what to do if your friend or family member's heart stopped? CPR, especially if administered immediately after cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Join us a for a free, one-hour hands-on CPR class and get the skills you need to be prepared in an emergency.This class is free and appropriate for all ages, hosted at Fort Ellis Fire Department.

The event will be held Monday, Feb. 25th from 7-8pm at the Fort Ellis Fire Station, 3725 Bozeman Trail Rd.

Lauren Scull
Fort Ellis Fire Service Area seeks a fee increase

Fort Ellis Fire Service Area is an all-volunteer fire department serving the most eastern part of Gallatin County.  The department provides fire response for both Structure fires and wildland fires; emergency medical response; motor vehicle accident response, which may include rescue and extrication; and all other types of calls that aid and benefit our residents.  Our fee structure is based on a single residential unit for all properties which include residential structures plus a multiple of the residential fee units for commercial properties within our district based on size and types of responses needed and anticipated.

We currently have $148 as our annual residential fee unit and seek approval from the Gallatin County Commission to approve a new annual residential fee unit of $250.  Our current fee structure has been in place since 2012. 

As we grow as a county, we as a department need to grow as well.  Our call volume is approximately 300 calls per year and expected to increase year over year.  In order to meet the demands of the types of calls we receive and be able to replace existing aging equipment, we have developed a comprehensive vehicle and equipment replacement plan.  We also have severely outgrown our existing station and have been working on a design for a new station.  Currently our station is located on Mount Ellis Academy property through a lease which expires in 2024.  We are possibly looking to re-negotiate a new lease on adjacent property that the Academy owns to build a new station on or look to purchase property in the general area of the existing station.  Both of these endeavors will require us to go far beyond our current budget.

As justification for our last fee increase, we pursued improving our ISO insurance rating by purchasing additional equipment and improving our training and record keeping.  I’m happy to report that those efforts have secured an 8B status from the old status of 9. Plus, we have recently applied for and tested for a “Hauled Water” rating and are fairly confident that we will be able to improve that rating to possibly a 6 or 7.  These improvements will help to reduce residential insurance rates for our residents within 5 miles of our station.  Once we receive our final result, letters will be sent out to those who will benefit from the improvements within our district.

We plan to go before the Gallatin County Commission during their August meeting for their approval.  If anyone has any questions or concerns, they are welcome to attend our monthly Board of Trustees meetings which occur each second Thursday at 7:30 pm at our fire station at 3525 Bozeman Trail Road.  If there are changes to the meeting dates, they will be posted on our website and at our station on our bulletin board on the south side of the station.  You may also send letters to the Board at the same address.



Michael J. Cech

Chief, Fort Ellis Fire Service Area


Lauren Scull
First Fort Ellis Blood Drive to be Held Aug. 24th
Unfortunately, blood donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.

Summer is a difficult time to collect blood yet the need remains constant because of increased rates of trauma during the summer season.  Unfortunately blood donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in and more donations are needed to replenish our blood supply.  Fort Ellis Fire Department has teamed up with the American Red Cross to help!

Please donate at the Fort Ellis Fire Department Blood Drive on Thursday, August 24th from 2:00-6:30 pm at the fire station, 3725 Bozeman Trail Road.

All presenting donors will receive a voucher for a FREE pint of Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream from Heeb’s Grocery on East Main Street!

Please contact Kim Hackl at 406-539-0802 or go online at to schedule an appointment.  Put in the sponsor code:  FORTELLISFIRE.

Thank you for your support.  This is our first ever Blood Drive and we would like to make it a success and fill a need for blood in our state.  

Lauren Scull
Red Flag Warning In Effect Until Wed, Aug. 23rd.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Gallatin County tomorrow, noon to 9pm (update: extended to 6 am on Saturday), indicating that any fire that starts is likely to become a serious event. Mid-August is traditionally the beginning of the fire season in Gallatin County, and we have already had our first fire, near Clarkston. Please be extremely careful about fires until we get substantial amounts of rain or snow.
• Check tow chains to make sure they don’t drag and throw sparks.
• Don’t drive in tall grass where a hot exhaust could catch the grass on fire.
• Avoid open burning and bonfires.
• Call 911 immediately for any fire you see, even if you think you can put it out.

Lauren Scull
Fort Ellis Receives Generous Donation from FLIR

This spring, Fort Ellis Fire/Rescue received an extremely generous donation from FLIR, the world’s largest commercial company specializing in the design and production of infared and thermal imaging cameras and technology.  Because FLIR’s operations in Bozeman are adjacent to Fort Ellis’s district boundary and several local executives live in the Fort Ellis district, the company provided three K65 thermal imaging cameras and accessories to outfit Fort Ellis volunteers with the latest technology.  These cameras allow crews to “see” through smoky environments to help locate victims, find hazards and evaluate where fires are burning the hottest.  The cameras also have great application in looking for victims of motor vehicle crashes that may have been thrown from the wreck.  

“Thanks to FLIR’s generosity and partnership, our volunteers can operate more safely and efficiently
— Buck Taylor, asst. chief of personnel

Assistant Chief Buck Taylor noted that the donation allows Fort Ellis crews to train with identical technology as the department’s two other thermal imaging cameras are different makes and models.   

“Thanks to FLIR’s generosity and partnership, our volunteers can operate more safely and efficiently in potentially dangerous environments while all training on the same equipment,” Taylor said.  “This is the best technology currently available and we are fortunate to work with this great equipment.  Many thanks to FLIR’s local leadership!”

Lauren Scull