The 1800’s brought growth not only to the State of Michigan but to the Grand Traverse Region. Grand Traverse County was incorporated in 1851 and the City of Traverse City incorporated in 1891. This once sleepy area grew from a lumber town to a major center of commerce. Today the Grand Traverse Region is a mix of tourism, service sector jobs, light industrial and retirement homes. The Grand Traverse region is one of the fastest growing areas in the Midwest. Outside Magazine names the region one of the top ten areas to live in the United States.
Many fire brigades and fire departments sprung up to meet the growth of the region. The City of Traverse City established a fire department near the turn of the century. As the County grew, villages and towns established fire departments. As with many other counties, Grand Traverse County Government accepted responsibility for fire protection. With the passing of PA 33 of 1951, Michigan Legislature did not indicate nor direct any obligation or responsibility of a county for the operation of a Fire Department. It did spell out the method of establishing Fire Protection Special Assessment Districts for Townships.
The Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners in October of 1970 recommended that the Grand Traverse Township Association take over the full responsibility of management and financing of the fire department. A new resolution was passed that read: “It is the intent of the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners to provide adequate and efficient fire and emergency protection service and facilities for the protection of the life and the property of all residents of Grand Traverse County, where ever such protection is not otherwise provided for by city, township or villages.”
The Sheriff of Grand Traverse County, Richard Weiler was named County Fire Chief. Station locations were named, mainly in the surrounding villages. A station was also located in the County Jail. Funding for the fire departments came from the township and villages general funds. This arrangement worked for nearly ten more years.
The townships of Acme, East Bay and Garfield were served by the jail based truck and small township departments. Rapid growth of these three townships required a change. The existing arrangements were not keeping up with the growth and the funding necessary to protect life and property. Visionaries such as Richard Weiler, Don Vezina, Gordy Brogden, Wayne Hanna, Roye Strait and others along with the three supervisors Lee Wilson, Jim Maitland and George Shimek saw the need for change. These three townships had similar needs and believed it is was in their best interest to join together in providing the services and equipment necessary to provide fire protections to their citizens.
On October 15, 1980 the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department was created. A budget based funding formula was established and Wayne Hanna was named Fire Chief. The Metro Fire Department has flourished and prospered under this new arrangement.
In 2008 Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department became Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority.
The Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority is proud of its rich history, but looks forward to the needs and challenges of the future.