Yellowstone County, Montana
Disaster & Emergency Services
Rural Fire Protection Laws Contact Department

Rural Fire Protection

Reference: Part 22, Title 7, Montana Codes Annotated (MCA)

This part of the law describes the authority of the county to protect range, farm and forest resources, the functions of the county governing body, the county rural fire chief, the establishment of the fire season, permit requirements, reimbursements of costs, violations, voluntary urban fire crews for use in rural areas, fire control powers-liability, finance of fire control activities, reimbursement for forest fire suppression in non-cooperating counties and levy against certain properties prohibited.

Fire Protection in Unincorporated Places

Reference: Part 23, Title 7, Montana Codes Annotated (MCA).

This part of the law addresses the authorization of fire companies in the state, organization of the fire company, powers and duties of the chief, exemptions for firefighters, certificates of membership in the fire company and the affect of city-county consolidation on a fire company or fire district.

Rural Fire Districts

Reference: Part 21, Title 7, MCA.


This part of the law deals with creation of fire districts via petition, notice of hearing, decision on the hearing, operation of the fire district, power and duties of the trustees, details relating to the trustees (terms, election, etc), contracts for fire protection services, mutual aid agreements, tax levy, debt incurrence and bonds authorized, affect of city-county consolidation, capital improvement fund authorized, consolidation of districts, petition for division of districts, hearing and protest, distribution of assets and liabilities following division, annexation of adjacent territory not in a fire district, annexation of adjacent territory contained in a fire district, withdrawal by owner of individual tract adjacent to a municipality, dissolution of the fire district and annexation of a fire district by a municipality.

Fire Service Areas

Reference: Part 24, Title 7, MCA.

This part of the law describes the establishment, alteration or dissolution of the fire service area, services provided to the area, operation of the fire service area, financing of the fire service area through a fee on structures and mutual aid agreements.

The significant differences between a district and fire service area are the method to create and the taxation imposed on the property owners. To create a fire district requires a "petition by 50% of privately owned lands who constitute a majority of the freeholders of the area" whereas a fire service area requires a "petition from at least 30 owners of real property in the proposed area or a majority of owners if there are no more than 30 owners". In a fire district a tax is levied on all property within the district - including real property, structures and improvements whereas in a fire service area a "fee" or a "schedule of rates" are charged to owners of structures and improvements on a fair and equal basis. The fee is not assessed on real property, the land.

Volunteer Firefighters' Compensation Act

Reference: Part 12, Title 19, MCA

19-17-402. Certificate of eligibility. The chief or presiding officer of each fire company that claims eligibility under this chapter shall, on or before September 1 of each year, file a certificate on a form to be provided by the board, subscribed and verified under oath before a notary, stating whether the company qualified under 19-17-108(3) during the preceding fiscal year. The certificate must contain the date of organization. The certificate must list the full name, social security number, and date of birth of each member of the fire company who was a member for the entire fiscal year and satisfactorily completed 30 hours of instruction during the preceding fiscal year, as required by 19-17-108(3). The certificate must be maintained by the board for the purpose of establishing service for members and eligibility for benefits.

19-17-103. Payments to fire companies maintaining supplemental insurance. To encourage and aid fire companies to maintain supplemental insurance to provide benefits when members are injured or killed while performing duties as volunteer firefighters, the board shall authorize payment of $75 per year for each motorized mobile unit of firefighting equipment, not to exceed $150 per fire company per year. Payment must be a charge against the pension trust fund and must be paid to each fire company maintaining supplemental insurance or to the organization or agency maintaining supplemental insurance for a fire company.