Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department
Line of Chiefs
The following is a list of all of the men who have led the Jacksonville Fire Department since its inception in 1886.
Peter Jones- July 15, 1886- January 22, 1891
Born in Staffordshire, England, Peter Jones was an infant when his parents immigrated to the United States. After being raised in New York City, where he would eventually serve as a policeman, Jones migrated to the South during the Civil War. He moved to Jacksonville after the war, where he was soon appointed collector of revenue for Duval County. Jones was subsequently elected as a member of the city council, which was followed by his election as mayor of Jacksonville, a post in which he remained for six consecutive terms. Following his tenure as mayor, Jones was appointed United States steamboat inspector of hulls for the third district, with headquarters at Savannah, a position he held until his appointment in July of 1886 as chief of Jacksonville’s first paid fire department. For his services as Jacksonville’s first fire chief, Jones was paid a salary of $1,200 per year. Jones remained Jacksonville’s fire chief until his death of pneumonia in 1891. According to contemporary newspaper accounts, the illness was “contracted in the direct line of duty."
J. H. Stephens- January 22nd, 1891- September 5th, 1892
Stephens succeeded Jones as chief only to leave 20 months after assuming the reigns of the Jacksonville Fire Department.
Thomas Haney- September 9th, 1892- January 1st, 1926
Haney was a Captain with the Atlanta Fire Department when he was summoned to be the third chief of the Jacksonville Fire Department. Haney lead an effort to acquire a better alarm system for the town as well as an improved water works system. He said in 1895 that if a fire started in Jacksonville and got a good headway, "ten chances to one, it would sweep everything in its path." Haney was still chief when the Great Fire of 1901 burned the city to the ground. He wasn't blamed and remained chief for another quarter of a century. At one point he was the highest paid official in the city, earning $2,400 a year, twice that of the mayor and police chief. In 1913, he was elected president of the International Association of Fire Engineers.
Hubert McMillan- January 1, 1926- September 1st, 1933
Chief McMillan was on the front line during the Great Fire of 1901 as a foreman assigned to Station 4. Firefighters saved the station, but MacMillan lost his house on Monroe Street to the flames. During his tenure as fire chief he oversaw the opening of five new fire stations as the department expanded its service into South Jacksonville.
W. Q. Dowling- September 1st, 1933- May 6th, 1943
William Q. Dowling spent 42 years in the fire department, his last 10 as chief. He lived in a house adjoining Central Station. Under his leadership, the
department became a model for efficient management, equipment and personnel, and the
city's insurance rates were extremely low. He was a member of the International Fire Chiefs Association and one-time president of the Southeastern Fire Chiefs Association.
G. E. Hare- May 13th, 1943- November 16th, 1952
George E. Hare spent 43 years in the fire department until retiring at the then mandatory age of 65. He served as deputy chief for 10 years before being appointed chief. He joined the department in 1909, at a salary of $60 a month, when all the equipment was horse drawn and steam pumpers were used to create the pressure needed to send streams of water on to fires.
J. B Chancey-November 17th, 1952- April 23rd, 1953
Chancey is best known for changing the numbers on Ladder Trucks so that all of the apparatus under the same roof would have the same number. Until then, Ladder trucks were kept in the same stations as Engines, but were numbered in the order they were placed in service. Chief Chancey had served with the department since December 4th, 1907.
Frank C. Kelly- April 23rd 1953- August 14th, 1963
Chief Kelly spent 43 years in the fire department, including 10 as chief, before mandatory retirement at age 65. Known for maintaining strict discipline, Kelly avidly promoted the department and is credited with upgrading its equipment. Having served since May 14th, 1920, Kelly served as Chief of the Department for 10 years. Kelly also leaves with the distinction of being the only man at the time to promote through all department ranks under the civil service system.
George R. Cromartie- August 14th, 1963- 1966
George R. Cromartie joined the fire department in 1927. He served as an assistant chief for 11 years and deputy chief for two years before his appointment to fire chief.
Wingate A. Jackson- 1966- 1968
Wingate A. Jackson Jr. spent 40 years in the Jacksonville fire department. During his 2 1/2-year tenure as chief, he oversaw the formation of the city's emergency rescue service, acquisition of more modern fire fighting equipment and advance planning for the department under the new consolidated government.
John J. Hubbard- 1968- March 1st, 1971
John J. Hubbard joined the department in 1927 on the same day as former chief George R. Cromartie. Hubbard led the department's expansion of services following consolidation.
W. E. Smith- March 1st, 1971-1974
W.E. Smith battled fire fighters over restrictions on hair length and dealt with racial tensions during his tenure as chief. A special mayor's citizens committee recommended long- and short-range goals be set for hiring more black firemen. Nine were hired under a federal court order in 1972.
Russell Yarborough- 1966- 1968
Russell Yarbrough joined the department in 1942 and worked his way up the ranks to assistant chief in 1971 before being appointed chief.
M. D. Gunn- Feb 13th, 1981- September 22nd, 1984
Marshall Dean Gunn worked his way up through the ranks of the fire division, serving for a time as planning officer and coordinator of the city's volunteer fire services. He spent 36 years in the department before retiring.
Miles R. Bowers- November 1984- 1988
Miles R. Bowers was instrumental in implementing many of the technologies you see today on the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. Bowers took over the JFRD at a time when morale was low and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue equipment was below standard. He quickly took action by computerizing the dispatch system used by the JFRD. By early 1986, all of Jacksonville’s fire stations had a computerized dispatch system. Bowers also added computers to vehicles on the Hazardous Materials Team, allowing mass amounts of information to be stored on responding apparatus. In 1988, Fire Chief Executive Magazine recognized Bowers as one of the top five fire chiefs in the nation.
Gary Keys Sr.- 1988- March 31st, 1989
Chief Gary F. Keys joined the department in 1960, was an original member of the first rescue units in Jacksonville in 1968 and served as Chief of Operations and Chief of Fire Services during his 29-year career. A former president of the firefighters union, he left the department after about seven months as fire chief to become the union business agent.
Danny Ingle- March 31st, 1989-1991
Chief Daniel Ingle was a 21-year veteran of the fire department when he
was named fire chief. Previously, he served as chief of operations. Ingle's
brief tenure coincided with a change in mayors.
Charles D. Clark- 1991- 1995
Charles D. Clark spent 34 years as a city fireman. he was the city's first fire chief to also serve as the Director of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
Previously, the post was divided, and most Directors had been physicians.
Clark left the department to become director of the State Fire Marshal's Office.
Randy Napoli- 1995
Randall W. Napoli, who was chief of the Fire Training Division, served as interim Chief while newly elected Mayor John Delaney searched for a new fire chief.
He left to head the state fire college and eventually become director of the State Fire Marshal's Office. In that role, he won "The Firefighters' Hero Award" for his efforts to pass a law strengthening safety rules for firefighters.
Rayfield Alfred- July 1st, 1995- June 30th, 2003
Rayfield Alfred became the city's first African-American fire chief when Mayor John Delaney lured him from Washington, D.C., following a national search for a new chief from outside the department. A 30-year veteran firefighter in Washington, including five years as chief, Alfred oversaw plans in Jacksonville to build new fire stations and replace aging equipment.
Miles R. Bowers- July 1st, 2003- September 15th, 2003
Miles Bowers returned for a two month stint as Interim Director/Fire Chief of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, once again inheriting a low morale problem. During his brief stay, Bowers purchased much needed equipment neglected by the preceding administration, most notably two marine boats to replace an aging marine fleet. Bowers would use this return as the finale of a stellar 57 year career, which saw him promote through the ranks, run the fire department shop, and twice lead the department up from morale issues.
Richard A. Barrett- September 15th, 2003- June 30th, 2006
Richard A. Barrett joined the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department in 1973. Upon taking office, he emphasized training and upgrading the department's aging equipment and facilities. Prior to his appointment as fire chief, he served as a battalion chief for more than eight years and as chief of the Fire Prevention Division for three.
Robert R. White- July 2006- December 3rd 2010
After the retirement of Chief Barrett, The positions of Director and Fire Chief were once again divided, making White the highest ranking Chief on the department.
White was named Firefighter of the Year in 1976 for saving a toddler from drowning. While assigned to Engine 32, he was the first JFRD officer to arrive on scene of the massive 1998 wildfires that ravaged Jacksonville's west side.
Charles Moreland- December 3rd, 2010- Present
After serving 7 yesr as the Division Chief of the Rescue Division, Chief Charles Moreland assumed command of the entire Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department on December 3rd, 2010.