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From 1839 to 1904, Jackson's first fire department consisted of five volunteer fire companies. The involvement in the volunteer fire companies measured the civic spirit of loyal citizens. Volunteers manned and supported these companies without compensation. They had very meager equipment, usually small pumps or engines that were hand transported and operated. Later, some companies acquired horses and wagons to transport their pumps. They obtained the water supply from wells, ponds, and cisterns.

On July 7, 1904, the mayor and aldermen adopted a city ordinance that established the Jackson Volunteer Fire Department as a career department. The new career department was to bear the name the Jackson Fire Department. This ordinance also appropriated $9,000 for the purchase of equipment and buildings from the old volunteer fire companies.

In 1904, Jackson hired its first paid Fire Chief who served until 1907. During this time, the Fire Department established a system where the men worked 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. The department gave the members 24 hours of leave a month, with no provision for sick leave at the time. Also, in 1904, the Fire Department established a uniform system for numbering homes and other buildings.

The next Fire Chief served from 1907 to 1917. It was during this time the Jackson Fire Department secured its first two motorized fire engines that would eventually replace the horse-drawn steamers.

Private capital built the Jackson Water Works in 1888, which was later purchased by the city for $196,000 in 1908. Before 1914, only muddy river water flowed through the city water mains, and each patron had to use a private filter to remove the mud and clear up the water.

It was also during this time that the Jackson Municipal Zoo had its beginnings. Several historical accounts have verified that the Jackson Zoo started from a motley collection of animals that the fire fighters kept at Central Station. They housed this collection of pets in cages built between Central Fire Station and City Hall. The collection attracted so many visitors that the idea of having a formal zoo became a reality.

On January 12,1917 a new Chief was appointed and served from 1917 to 1960. In 1917, the department consisted of four stations with seven pieces of equipment. Within a year all the horse-drawn equipment was replaced with motorized equipment. The personnel for four fire stations consisted of 35 members grew to 313 members.

In 1960, the Jackson Fire Department saw several important changes. The new training center was opened with a full-time drill master and captain. The Fire Prevention Bureau was inaugurated, and a Rescue Unit was placed into service. An important change in the 1970s was the crossing of gender and cultural lines within the department.

As Jackson grows, new demands and services are being implemented to accommodate the city's growth. The department made several policy changes concerning communication in the department, emergency response, personnel, and organization as well as implemented needed changes and launched the department well into the 21st century with space age technology. Improvements over the years have benefited both the citizens of Jackson and fire fighters themselves. The Jackson Fire Department's Command Staff is now fully staffed and functional.To compliment this new look the department has been given approval to hire new firefighters to bring staffing to its highest level in years. Finally a study is being done to construct a new and expanded training facility to offer an even wider range of classes for the department. 

The Jackson Fire Department has had 14 fire chiefs and 11 fallen fighters. Today the personnel consists of 443 budgeted positions, 21 stations, and 72 pieces of equipment. The mission of this department is to prevent the loss of life and property to a population of over 175,000 citizens.

While viewing this web page, please visit all the exciting divisions and see what is happening in the Jackson Fire Department today. We look forward to personally meeting you while you are visiting our wonderful city.