The town has had many stops on the road to its incorporation as the Town of Jacksonville in 1847. It was called Wantland Ferry in 1770s to early 1780s. In 1785 the name was changed to Onslow Courthouse, and in 1842 the name changed to Jacksonville. Little is known of the fire history prior to 1906 when the town's train depot burned ultimately destroying all the records. It was this event that moved many to start on the path to protecting the town and its people from the dangers of fire. During this period many people worked to have plumbing installed for hydrants, water mains, and wells to support them. The Council worked for the next few years to obtain funding and purchased a Number 38 Howe hand pumper, which some say was pulled by ox or mule as needed.
In 1913 Mr. T.W. Brock was appointed the Chief of the Fire Department; he was paid $12 a year. The fire effort continued until the 1920s when the effort moved into a more organized fire service system. In 1921 two fire companies "Phoenix and Atlantic" were formed. It has been told that during this time a station wagon was used as a hose carrier after it had the roof removed. The Jacksonville Volunteer Department was formed in 1927 and had a fire house by Mill Street.
In the 1940s the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department, along with the town, built the Chaney Street Fire Station. This housed the Jacksonville Town Hall, Fire, and Police Department. This building is still in use today as the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire House. The town in 1956 moved into a new building on Mildred Street and in 1975 added to the building. The building was then used as City Hall, Fire and Police Department. The Fire Department added paid firefighters in the late 1950s with Chief Keith Phillippe reporting in as the first full-time Fire Chief. As the town grew into a City the Fire Department expanded with it; Station Number 2 in the 1960s on Barn Street; Station Number 3 in the 1980s on Huff Drive; and, Station Number 4 added in 1999. Temporary Station Number 5 was added in 2010 at 102 Westmont Road.
In 2005, City Hall moved to their current location on New Bridge Street. In 2014 Fire Administration, Station Number 1 and the Police Department moved to the Center for Public Safety, located at 200 Marine Boulevard Station Number 2 and the temporary Station Number 5 combined in 2015 and moved to the new Station Number 2 located at 1800 Gum Branch Road.
The Department continues working very hard to improve and provide increased service to the citizens and visitors of the City of Jacksonville by holding a Class 3 ISO rating and is an accredited agency. The Department started the first responders program in 1996. In 2013, the Department consisted of 86 career firefighters and staff, 3 part-time employees, 5 Volunteer firefighters, 6 Engines, 1 Ladder truck, 1 Rescue Truck, 3 Squads, along with other support /Special vehicles and trailers.
In 2017, Jacksonville Fire and Emergency Services continues with its Class 3 ISO rating and is applying to be recognized for its fourth accreditation. There are 84 career firefighters and staff, 1 part-time employee, 5 volunteer firefighters, 5 Engines, 1 Ladder Truck, 1 Rescue Truck, 1 Quint, 3 Squads, 3 boats, along with other support/special vehicles and trailers.