The Mint Hill community, settled in 1750, incorporated in 1890, dissolved due to a road conflict in 1905 and incorporated again in 1971, has long been recognized as a community interested in helping their neighbors. In early 1952, following some devastating fires, a group of concerned citizens met and decided to form a volunteer fire department in order to protect the property within the community. The interest of personnel was overwhelming; however, there was no equipment, no communication system, no adequate water supply or, perhaps most important, no money. The organizers did not let any of these adversities dampen their enthusiasm or distract their vision.
Several of the organizing members went to a bank and personally signed guaranty notes to provide the funding for the purchase of a used fuel oil truck. Once this was done, the work to convert the truck into a fire engine was achieved by the various members using their professional expertise and knowledge of tanks, pumps, pressure valves, etc. to make the fire engine functional. While this was being completed, others were going door-to-door asking for donations to pay for the truck and equipment. When the unit was completed, it was housed under a "shade tree" by day and a service station bay at night. A communication system of telephone relay was used until radios became available several years later. From this humble beginning, our department today uses many of the same methods used in the beginning; that is, use of volunteer personnel and emphasizing training.
As the community continued to grow, it became very evident that the funeral home operated ambulance system was not the best method of providing emergency medical care. In the late 60's, Mecklenburg County had a contract ambulance service, operating from downtown Charlotte, NC, about 14 miles from Mint Hill. The average response time to Mint Hill was 45-60 minutes, provided they had a unit available. This was no longer acceptable to our community, so in July 1975, our fire department became the providers of Emergency Medical Services. Before starting our operation, Mecklenburg County granted us a franchise to function as a primary provider, with ambulance transport capabilities.
We started as a basic level provider with one ambulance. We learned quickly that we needed more than one ambulance and a higher level of service ability. This was achieved by training our personnel to reach our current paramedic level of service. Today, our service provides any pre-hospital EMS level care available within the region.
As our department continued to grow and demands increased, we learned of a way to use a portable water supply system that would greatly enhance our fire suppression capabilities and give us an Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating of 6, saving the citizens in the Mint Hill Fire District approximately $250,000.00 annually on their home owner's fire insurance premiums. We were the first department in the region to install this system, using the lakes and streams as a water supply. We are proud to say that in 2005 we again upgraded our rating to a 5, hereby saving additional dollars for our community.
In 2013, our Fire & EMS service has evolved to become one of the largest in the area. We are one of the few departments in North & South Carolina providing fire, medium-duty rescue, Emergency Medical Service first responders and 2 Advanced Life Support transport ambulances 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Obviously, we are larger and the demands are greater, but we function today basically as we did in the beginning, by helping our neighbors.