It all began at a meeting on October 5, 1846, at Town Hall, 14 North Third St., the present location of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County. Benjamin M. Miller was elected the first President of the Good Intent Fire Company #1.
A committee was selected and sent to Philadelphia to procure a fire engine. This in itself was a long journey as compared to our present two hour drive. The engine arrived and was paraded through town. The Miners’ Journal related the following: “We are gratified to see that the efforts of the young men of our borough to provide better fire apparatus have been crowned with success, and no committee ever appointed by any company to receive and collect subscriptions worked harder than the gentlemen composing the committee belong to the Good Intent.”
During 1859, application was made to the Court of Common Pleas for a Charter containing the names of the 38 prominent men, and on February 2, 1860, charter was granted to the Good Intent Fire Co. No. 1 of Pottsville, PA. In July 1881, Council appropriated $2,000.00 to purchase a lot on the corner of Second St. and Go Forth Alley, for a site for a new engine house. The cornerstone was laid on June 17, 1882. On November 29, 1882, the company took possession of their new engine house, which is their present home located at 7 North Second St.
On May 8, 1861, a large number of the active members of the Good Intent enlisted in the ranks of the defenders of our Government in response to the call of the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. They marched to defend the National Capitol against rebels.
In July 1866, a new steamer No. 199, manufactured by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. of Manchester NH, was received by the company. On Saturday July 28, 1866, about 150 members of the Good Intent Fire Co., headed by the Third Brigade Band, paraded the old and new fire apparatus to Humane Island in the Tumbling Run Valley. This steamer is presently owned, in operable condition, by the Mountaineer Hose Co. of Minersville, PA. On April 14, 1872, Charles Ewing, a member of the company, became the first and only member to lose his life in the line of duty. He was killed while responding to a fire on Sanderson St. He was a young man in the prime and vigor of life and an active member of the Good Intent. Four Pottsville Fire Companies, as well as several military and musical groups took part in the funeral procession.
On May 6, 1910, a new era of fire fighting practice was begun in the City of Pottsville when the Good Intent, through the foresight of the company members, purchased the first piece of motorized apparatus, a Robinson 700 GPM triple combination pumper. The cost of the engine was $8,500.00. Throughout the Great Depression, World War II years, and into the 1950’s, the Good Intent served the City with two Ahrens Fox engines. The first was a 1929 1000 GPM piston pumper, very similar to the one presently owned by the West End Hose Co. No. 7 of Pottsville. This engine was sold to a collector from New England for $750.00. The second was a 500 GPM Ahrens Fox triple combination pumper purchased on June 10, 1937. The second Ahrens Fox, upon completion of its firefighting duties, saw service for many years as an attraction at Heisler’s Dairy Bar in Walker Township.
On May 17, 1958, at a cost of $21,000.00 a 750 GPM Oren triple combination pumper was purchased. This engine saw service for 17 years in the City of Pottsville. The Oren was replaced in 1975 by a 1000 GPM Hahn custom pumper. The unit was purchased at a cost of $56,000.00 and served for 13 years. It remains in service with Locust Gap (PA) Fire Department. The 1975 Hahn was replaced by another 1000 GPM Hahn in 1988. The second Hahn was purchased at a cost of $185,000.00 and still carries the number 11 as it serves the City of Camden, NJ.
Today the firefighters of the Good Intent Fire Co. No. 1, nicknamed the “Downtown Devils,” respond to fire and emergency calls aboard a 1998 E-One custom pumper that was purchased at a cost of $322,000.00. This engine carries many of the modern day tools of the trade, including air monitoring devices, Haz-Mat supplies, accident equipment and an onboard foam system, which allows the Good Intent to be the most active engine company in the City.
The Good Intent Fire Co. No. 1 is very proud of its heritage and its member who have, throughout the years, answered a myriad of emergency calls and have performed both bravely and efficiently. The company, whose membership now numbers approximately 120, continues to uphold its motto: “To do GOOD is our INTENT.”