Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department
|Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department|
|Established||April 20, 1886|
|Annual calls||123,368 in 2013|
|Fire chief||Martin Senterfitt|
|Facilities & Equipment|
|Engines||53 (37 ALS Engines)|
According to a list of the thirty largest fire departments in the United States, based on staff size, JFRD is number eighteen.
The 2012 National Fire Department Census revealed that Florida has four hundred and seventy-seven registered fire departments. Duval County has the fifth largest fire department in the state based on the number of fire stations. JFRD is among the largest departments in the state and the nation. The department is made up of six division, fifty-eight fire and rescue locations, a professional career force of roughly thirteen-hundred diverse individuals, from all walks of life, and a number of teams, specially trained to handle any type of emergency call. All of which, provide around the clock emergency response services to an eight hundred and forty square mile territory within the City of Jacksonville and the unincorporated areas of Duval County.
In Jacksonville's early days, citizens responded to fires by forming formed bucket brigades. In 1852, Jacksonville upgraded its firefighting apparatus with the acquisition of a hand pumper. The wheeled pumper had large handles on each side, which were pumped up and down in a seesaw manner to create hydraulic pressure. On April 5, 1854, the hand pumper was put to the test when a spark from the paddle steamer Florida ignited a fire at the docks along Bay Street between Ocean and Newnan. The pumper proved no match for the conflagration, which destroyed the pumper along with 70 buildings, devastating Jacksonville’s business district.
The city's first organized firefighting force was formed on January 10, 1868, when a group of volunteers created the Friendship Hook and Ladder Company. Several other volunteer companies were formed by 1870, and together they came to be known as the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department.
In 1876, a group of 22 African Americans organized the Duval Hose Company. Their station was located near the intersection of Pine and Ashley Streets. The Duval Hose Company soon became one of the most active volunteer companies in Jacksonville.
On December 16, 1885, an African American named Henry Bradley, was killed when a flaming wall collapsed onto him. Bradley thus became the first Jacksonville firefighter to die in the line of duty. The public outcry about Bradley's death, coupled with rising insurance rates due to Jacksonville’s lack of a professional fire department, led to calls for change. Several fire insurance companies serving Jacksonville threatened to withdraw their coverage. Fire insurance rates went up by 25%, which threatened to halt the city’s development.
On April 20, 1886, the Jacksonville City Council passed an ordinance creating a professional fire department. Peter Jones, former mayor of Jacksonville, was elected as the city’s first fire chief. He was provided 17 men to staff 3 stations to protect the city area of approximately 39 square miles. Jones remained fire chief through the Great Fire of 1901.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department has six divisions, all of which play an integral role in providing around the clock emergency response to the City of Jacksonville. Each one oversees specific tasks, but come together to form JFRD.
In 1971, the JFRD became subject of a consent decree as part of a class action lawsuit, Coffey v. Braddy. The lawsuit was filed due to claims of discrimination against African-American applicants to the department. At the time of the suit, there were only two black firefighters in a department of almost 700. In 1984, the decree was modified to change hiring process at the JFRD. According to the decree, the department was required to hire a one-to-one ratio of black and white firefighters until the percentage of black firefighters equaled the percentage of blacks in the local population. This hiring restriction was fulfilled in 1992.
On August 8, 2006, the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission released a report after an investigation into a complaint of a racially hostile work environment. The complaint was filed in February 2006 after two black firefighters in the department arrived for duty and found nooses placed in their lockers. The report found that, while operational performance was at a high standard, the off-duty behaviors of members of the department were a concern.
- "Largest Fire Departments in the US". Fire Department. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- "National Fire Department Census Quick Facts" (Webpage). U.S. Fire Administration. January 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- "Florida Fire Departments". Fire Departments. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- "JFRD: Our Divisions". COJ.net. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- "JFRD Fast Facts". City of Jacksonville.
- Hinson, Don. "Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department". Fire Departments. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- "History of JFRD". Jacksonville Fire Museum. Retrieved 6/4/2014. Check date values in:
- "Our Divisions". COJ.net. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- "Coffey et al v. Braddy et al - Document 62". Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- Doolittle, Kirsten (February 14, 2013). "Complaint - NAACP v. City of Jacksonville". Law Office of Kirsten Doolittle, P.A. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- "City of Jacksonville, Florida Fire Department Accused of Racially Discriminatory Employment Practices in New Civil Rights Lawsuit". Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. February 14, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- Jacksonville Human Rights Commission (August 8, 2006). "Report to the Mayor on the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department" (pdf). Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- "Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department". City of Jacksonville. Retrieved May 23, 2014.