Our History

You can tell a lot about a company by looking at its roots.

 Rural/Metro's history goes back 65 years, when founder Lou Witzeman became concerned that his neighborhood didn't have fire protection. So he pooled together some money, bought a fire truck, and asked his neighbors to subscribe to his fledgling company.

With the company was also born a new way of thinking about health and safety services. As a private sector company, Rural/Metro is dedicated to finding the most cost-effective ways to deliver the highest quality ambulance  and private fire protection services. In 1969, Rural/Metro began operating ambulance services independently of its fire operations.

What began with one man's vision has grown into a differentiated company that is now the second-largest provider in the United States with nearly 10,000 employees in 21 states and more than 1.5 million transports provided annually.

Our Founder - The Lou Witzeman Story

One evening in 1948, Lou Witzeman watched his neighbor's house go up in flames because there was no fire protection in his small, unincorporated community. He knew something had to be done.

Lou pooled together some money, bought a fire truck, and began the operation of a four-man fire department. He couldn't collect taxes, so he went door to door, asking his neighbors to subscribe by paying an annual fee.  "There was no master plan in forming the company," Witzeman said. "I simply needed fire protection for my neighborhood, and I was determined to get it."

His idea turned out to be a solution for many surrounding communities.   "I never expected the company to grow so big," Witzeman said. "I just wanted to provide my neighborhood with fire protection. But soon I began to realize that I had really stumbled onto something. I found that the established ways of providing services were not as efficient as they could be. So Rural/Metro's cause became to look for new and better ways to do the job ... for less money."

Lou encouraged creativity, and explored different methods to meet each of his client communities' particular needs. In fact, finding ways to deliver cost-effective service based on needs became Rural/Metro's primary mission, which remains with the company today.

In 1978, Witzeman sold Rural/Metro to his employees through a unique employee stock ownership plan. In July 1993, Rural/Metro began trading its stock on the NASDAQ stock market.  And in June 2011, the Company was acquired by the global private equity firm Warburg Pincus, LLC. 


Today, Rural/Metro Remains an Industry Leader

Our business strategy remains focused on delivering superior service within an efficient operating model and includes standardization of key systems, including billing, purchasing and contract compliance.  Our commitment to advanced technology also is a cornerstone in our dedication to excellence.  These elements are further supported by our eperienced team of ambulance and fire protection services professionals.