GFR’s first African American female career firefighter retires

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A pioneer firefighter in the Greenville area hung up her gear for retirement last week.

The average career length for a firefighter is 30 years.

For Angela Gales two years short of that seemed like the perfect time to say goodbye to a career she just fell in love with.

“It’s been a long road,” said Gales. “I really never thought that I would be retiring because, when I first came in, I was like, ‘No, I’m just here for a while.’”

That is the furthest from what actually happened. Friday, Gales celebrated 28 years and 8 months with Greenville Fire and Rescue.

When she came in, there had only been one other African American woman on the force. Now, she is the first African-American woman in Greenville Fire Rescue’s history to retire.

Many say that is an accomplishment and she has broken barriers for many to come.

“For us black women, white women, any kind of woman, if you think that you can do it, at least you can try and if you don’t succeed, at least you know that you can’t do it,” she said. “But if you put your mind to it and be strong willed about it, anybody can do it.”

Gales said, when she came in, she didn’t know anything and it was the support of her colleagues that got her where she is today.

Now that she is retired, she’s looking forward to spending more time with her family and in her garden.

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