Our History

A picture of the “Tin House

The Braden River Story

The history of East Manatee Fire Rescue District began in the late 1970s when a group of residents recognized the need for a fire rescue agency to serve the growing area east of the Braden River. In 1978, the Braden River Volunteer Fire Department was formed to protect eastern Manatee County communities. In addition to the homesteads and farmlands, the construction of the new Interstate 75 was predicted to bring more growth to the area.

First Fire Station in the Early 1980’s

A Starbucks Coffee occupies the property of our first fire station which was located at 6521 SR 64 in the Travelers Oasis Business Park. For $1.00, the District leased a pole barn with a tin roof and dirt floor which was known as “The Tin House”. The mismatched equipment that filled the station was handed down by other local and state agencies. A band of good-hearted, yet rag-tag volunteers inherited the nickname “The Tin House Orphans” due to the state of the firehouse.

In July 1980, the Florida legislature created the Braden River Fire Control and Rescue District, a 100-square-mile special taxing district. In 1981, through a donation from Anthony T. Rossi, owner of Tropicana Products, new firefighting gear was purchased. The new District purchased land in 1982 and built a real fire station on the site of the current Station 2 at 803 60th Street Court East.

By 1983, there had been 3 volunteer fire chiefs in 3 years. The Board of Fire Commissioners determined that it was time to hire a full-time Chief to manage the growing District. Henry Sheffield was our first paid Fire Chief and retired in 2007, becoming our first retiree.

Two paid firefighters were added in 1988 to address the daytime calls when volunteers were not as available. In 1992, more firefighters were hired and placed on 24-hour shifts. A second station was built and staffed in 1997, which is the current Station 6. A third station was added in 2000, and a fourth in 2002.

Growth

In 20 years, the District has grown from a volunteer brigade operating out of a pole barn to eight fully staffed stations.

In June 2005 Governor Jeb Bush signed legislation changing the name of the District to East Manatee Fire Rescue which better represented the area served. Also that year, property for Station 5 was acquired and construction began. In 2006, Station 5 opened and was dedicated to Chaplain Richard Kirby.

Also in 2005, 20 acres of land were purchased, and in 2008 an office building was constructed followed by a central fire station in 2010. Training grounds were added in 2013 and a 4-story Training Tower in 2017.

On June 1, 2020, Station 7 was opened and on April 19, 2021, Station 8 was opened.

The Myakka City Story

A tragic accident in Myakka City in 1979 prompted a group of community members to form a volunteer fire department. The Myakka City Fire Control District was created by the Florida Legislature in 1986 and Manatee County assumed oversite in 1992. Under the early leadership of volunteer Fire Chief Bobby Maddox, the fire department transitioned from an all-volunteer organization to a combination paid/volunteer agency.
Robert Dodge became the first paid Fire Chief and in 2000, due to a partnership with Manatee County EMS, the District became staffed 24/7 with an Advanced Life Support (ALS) crew which still exists today. For the last 17 years, the District was been led by Chief Daniel Cacchiotti until his retirement on September 30, 2021. During this time, a second station was opened and staffed around the clock.

Merger

On October 1, 2021, the Myakka City Fire Control District was merged into the East Manatee Fire Rescue District. Together, we have 131 employees with 38 firefighters assigned on each shift operating 9 engine companies and 2 ladder trucks from 10 stations protecting a population of over 98,000 in the 346 square mile District.