Goldsboro Fire Department was established in May of 1881. Before that time, the Eclipse Fire Engine Company was serving the community.
The Mary Alice
This steam engine pumper, pulled by two horses, was purchased in 1880 by Charles Dewey, the Chief of Eclipse Fire Engine Company during that time. It was named in memory of his daughter. This engine cost the department just under $4,ooo to purchase, which at that time was a hefty expenditure as most chemical engines were under $1000. The Mary Alice was kept in service with the Goldsboro Fire Department during the transition to the new department. The apparatus was rumored to have set a world record for the speed in getting the steam to the correct temperature the fastest and then spraying water the farthest. It served the department as a front line apparatus until 1919, and then was used as a reserve engine until 1940. It was then retired and put on display at Herman Park. During World War II, there was a great need for scrap metal. The Mary Alice was escorted down the streets of Goldsboro one last time on her way to be used for the needed metal for the war.
Very few of the personnel were paid members, most served in a volunteer capacity. The picture below is of the firefighters at the beginning of century with The Mary Alice. It is one of the oldest known photographs of the Goldsboro Fire Department. The man sitting in the front of the Mary Alice was Lon Pearsall, who at that time was the only known paid firefighter. Him and his family actually lived in the fire station and was responsible for making sure everything was ready to go when the need arose. The man in the back by the window was on duty that day, monitoring the Gamewell Telegraph system and would notify the firefighters if any emergency happened.
Uniforms were not regulated in the early days of Goldsboro Fire Department. Most of the volunteers could not afford to purchase extra clothing beyond their daily needs. The Department did not have the funds available to issue uniforms beyond the protective gear. The fire personnel were just asked to dress the best they could with what they already had available. Dress uniforms started to become more standardized around the 1940’s when the department was able to issue the uniforms to the personnel.