OCALA HAS ONE OF THE OLDEST FIRE DEPARTMENTS IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
A fire known as the Great Fire occurred on Thanksgiving Day 1883, destroying five square blocks downtown. City leaders and Ocala residents then demanded that a first rate fire department be formed. Fire bonds were sold the following year to raise the money needed to purchase equipment, and a city ordinance creating the establishment of fire department was passed in 1885. During the next decade, firefighters pulled the hose carts and apparatus to fires using muscle and foot power. In 1894, Ocala’s first team of fire horses were purchased. The first motorized apparatus (a chief’s buggy) was purchased in 1915, and the following year all the remaining fire horses were replaced by mechanized apparatus. The fire horses were “retired” and given to the sanitation department for further service to the citizens of Ocala, pulling the garbage trucks.