COMO YOU KNOW: Columbia Fire Department

Thursday, April 4, 2013 | 11:43 a.m. CDT; updated 6:44 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014

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The Columbia Fire Department is responsible for all fires within Columbia city limits. It operates nine fire stations in Columbia. The stations are staffed by about 140 firefighters.


Headquarters address:

201 Orr St.

Columbia, MO 65201

Phone: 573-874-7391

Fax: 573-874-7446



Full text


Columbia’s first fire department was organized by General Olden Guitar in 1825, and the volunteers fought fires with 12 buckets suspended from ladders on a wagon. The first paid department in Columbia was formed in 1893. It was staffed by a chief, assistant chief and 11 part-time or volunteer firefighters. Water came from wells in the city.

Columbia got motorized fire equipment in 1913, and the first fire-prevention program was organized by then-chief Earl Kurtz, who inspected buildings for potential fire hazards and educated the public about fire prevention.

As Columbia grew, so did the size of the fire department. A second station was built in 1957, and four city-owned stations, along with one MU-owned station, were added from 1966 to 1973.

Chief William Markgraf

William Markgraf was appointed fire chief July 5, 1988. Three new fire stations opened during his tenure as chief. On Oct. 11, 2010, Markgraf announced plans to retire Jan. 5, 2011. Markgraf had spent 55 years in fire service, more than 22 of which were with the Columbia Fire Department.

Chief Charles Witt

Charles Witt was promoted to fire chief May 6, 2011. Witt worked at the Sullivan Fire Department in 1977. He served as a firefighter with the Boone County Fire Protection District in 1983 and then transferred to the Columbia Fire Department in 1986. He became deputy fire chief in 2004.

The department today

The fire department currently employs about 140 men and women. It operates within four divisions: administration, emergency services, departmental services and fire marshals. The Computer Aided Dispatch system was updated in May 2009. It helps identify locations of incidents and communicates to responding units where to find the closest fire hydrants, cross streets and warns them of any hazards at the site.


Station #1 – 201 Orr St.

Station #2 – 1212 W. Worley St.

Station #3 – 1000 Ashland Road

Station #4 – 2300 Oakland Gravel Road

Station #5 – 1400 Ballenger Lane

Station #6 – 3112 Chapel Hill Road

Station #7 – 400 Green Meadows Circle

Station #8 – 2301 E. Nifong Blvd.

Station #9 – 201 Blueridge Road

Fire Training Academy – 700 Big Bear Blvd.

Links and sources

Columbia Fire Department history

Updated: April 4, 2013

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