Kurtis Wilson grew up in Gainesville, Fla. and launched his fire service career with the City of Fernandina Beach’s fire and rescue department. His JFRD career began in 1994 at Station 50 on Beach Boulevard.
Wilson, who is also a licensed paramedic, spent the majority of his field duty days as the Captain of Tower Ladder 21, which runs out of Station 21 on Jacksonville’s Southside – one of two JFRD HazMat stations. In addition to responding to emergencies, Wilson managed and trained three dozen firefighters who were members of JFRD’s HazMat team at Station 21. He also consulted with numerous equipment vendors, purchased specialized equipment for JFRD, managed federally-funded equipment, and planned budgets for a variety of grants through the Department of Homeland Security.
Wilson joined JFRD’s executive leadership team in January 2011, when then-Mayor John Peyton appointed him as Chief of the Administrative Services Division. Wilson oversaw the maintenance of the department’s 58 fire stations and its fleet of 300-plus emergency response vehicles. Wilson also directed a staff responsible for purchasing everything from paper clips to multi-ton fire engines, rescue units, and other vehicles.
In 2012, then-Mayor Alvin Brown appointed Wilson as Chief of the Fire Prevention Division. While managing the Prevention Division, Wilson implemented a reorganization that increased the division’s capacity to meet the stringent ISO requirements throughout the division. He also restored the division’s community outreach/public education function. Meanwhile, Wilson earned his bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Flagler College. Wilson had previously earned his associate’s degree in fire science from Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Appointed to Chief of the Operations Division in July 2013, Wilson commanded the largest function within the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. He directed more than 900 personnel who staff the department’s fire suppression apparatus, Hazardous Materials Team, Special Operations Team, and the Marine Division.
In August 2015, Mayor Lenny Curry appointed Wilson as JFRD's Director / Fire Chief. Wilson is leading one of the largest and most progressive fire and rescue departments in the nation, and he will continue to ensure that the highest standards of public safety throughout our great city are fulfilled.