Rural Metro

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Rural/Metro Corporation
Private Company
Industry Healthcare
Founded 1948
Products Ambulance, Fire Protection, Security Services, Emergency Communications
Revenue $500 million USD (2008)
Owner Warburg Pincus
Slogan 50 Years of Serving Others

Rural/Metro Corporation is an American for-profit emergency services organization, providing emergency medical transportation, non-emergency general medical transportation, fire protection services, and emergency-related training services to private and commercial enterprises. The company is the second-largest emergency services organization in the United States, operating in more than 400 communities across 21 states.[1] Rural/Metro employs over 8,000 people and answers 1.5 million calls for service yearly. Rural/Metro also owns Southwest Ambulance of Arizona. Rural/Metro itself is owned by Warburg Pincus.[2]

In 2013, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after reaching a deal with its lenders to reduce its debt. The company is continuing operations during the bankruptcy reorganization.


The company was founded by Lou Witzeman, a newspaper reporter, after he witnessed a house fire near his home just outside the city limits of Phoenix, Arizona in 1948. There was no fire department established for the area. Witzeman felt something had to be done, went and purchased a fire engine and proceeded to go door to door asking residents to subscribe to the new fire service by paying an annual membership fee (in lieu of taxes).[1] This was the origin of the Rural Fire Department, later renamed Rural/Metro Fire Department. In the 1980s, the company expanded into ambulance service. Rural/Metro began listing shares in 1993 on the NASDAQ exchange under the stock symbol RURL.

Warburg Pincus acquired Rural/Metro in June 2011 for US$728 million in cash and debt.[2] Rural/Metro was delisted from NASDAQ as part of the merger agreement.[3]

In 2013, the company "replaced senior management", including the chief executive officer.

Emergency Medical Services[edit]

In 1969, Rural/Metro began offering ambulance service to customers by placing an ambulance at its fire station in the unincorporated Cave Creek, Arizona. Rural/Metro continues to operate fire based and EMS based ambulance services.

Many communities are covered under a master contract in which Rural/Metro is selected as the sole provider for fire services, or 911 ambulance services for a jurisdiction. Additionally, Rural/Metro offers other transport services in areas in which they are not the primary EMS provider. Rural/Metro currently offers ambulance services in 450 communities across 20 states.[4]

Fire Protection Services[edit]

Rural/Metro offers private fire protection services to communities in the United States on fee or subscription basis. The company has traditionally offered services in locations in which there are no other fire departments operating. Many of these locations contract directly with individuals, charging an annual fee to people who choose to subscribe. Rural/Metro Fire Department serves under a master contract in a handful of communities and receives operating funds directly from the community (tax based, yet privately provided).[5] Rural/Metro Fire Department provides services to nonsubscribers in these communities, billing the property owner after the incident to recoup costs associated with the emergency.[6][7]

The fire response received criticism for billing practices for fire services. In one instance, it billed a homeowner despite having arrived after publicly funded firefighters had already begun firefighting operations.[8] The homeowner had not approved the Rural/Metro operations, and was unaware that they offered subscription services in the area.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rural/Metro Corporation - Our History - Ambulance Transportation, Private Fire Protection Services". Retrieved 2015-03-03. 
  2. ^ a b "Warburg Buys Rural/Metro". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-03-03. 
  3. ^ "Form 8-K". EDGAR. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. July 1, 2011. Item 3.01. Commission File Number 0-22056. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ "Renew Fire Service". Rural/Metro Fire. Retrieved 2015-03-03. 
  7. ^ "Home burns then fire department charges residents nearly $20,000 | Odd News - Yahoo News". 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2015-03-03. 
  8. ^ Monier, Jill (5 November 2013). "Surprise home burns; Rural Metro bills owner almost $20k". Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Lohr, David (November 8, 2013). "Arizona Firefighters Charge Family Nearly $20,000 After Home Burns Down". Huffington Post. Retrieved Nov 11, 2013.