Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department was created on August 30, 2005 by combining Canyon Ferry Volunteer and Lakeside Volunteer Fire Departments. Tri-Lakes covers approximately 105 square miles with five stations and fourteen apparatus. The majority of the area’s approximately 5,000 residents live in the wildland urban interface.
Tri-Lakes has a rich history rooted in the combined history of the two original departments. Canyon Ferry Fire Department traces its history back to September 9, 1964 when Magpie Bay Volunteer Fire Department was incorporated. They started out with a one bay station on the east shore of Canyon Ferry Lake. Like so many volunteer fire departments, they started out with a few of the residents banding together with a vow to make things better. The first truck came through the Department of Defense surplus program in the form of a 1953 duce-and-a-half. A lean-to was added to the small building a few years later to allow for a donated Chevy ¾ ton pickup as a brush truck. On April 24, 1987, the name was changed to Canyon Ferry Volunteer Fire Department and the coverage area had expanded to approximately 35 square miles. In 1988, the Department was reformed as a fire service area which allowed the funding to change from donations only to a fee, based on structures, that was added to resident's taxes. In 1994, a second two-bay station was added on the west shore.
As a result of the Canyon Ferry Complex of fires in 2000, the two departments joined operationally and agreed to automatic aid, simultaneous paging, and a joint training program. This cooperation led to the merger in 2005 and the formation of Tri-Lakes.
From Tri-Lakes' inception, the department has worked relentlessly to improve the apparatus, equipment, and qualifications of its firefighters and emergency medical technicians. The improvement plan adopted at the time of the merger resulted in a two-class improvement in the departments ISO rating, from a Class 9 to a Class 7, in early 2007 thus saving most residents hundreds of dollars on their insurance premiums.
For all the equipment and stations that we have, they do not make a fire department – the volunteers do! Without the thousands of hours donated every year by these dedicated and giving volunteers, the stations would be empty and the trucks worthless placeholders. We have a great crew of dedicated men and women that spend countless hours training; who leave their loved ones at the sound of the pager any time of the day or night to help people they don’t know and save houses they have never been to. They are the heart and soul of Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department and I am so proud of them!