Members of the Odessa Fire Company paid tribute to their history while celebrating the brand new Station 24 on Main Street on Oct. 12.
Designed by Fearn-Clendaniel Architects of Wilmington and built by i3a Consulting Engineers & Construction Managers of Smyrna, the new two-story, 23,000-square-foot fire station cost $4.5 million.
Events on Oct. 12 included an open house with tours of the building, followed by the opening ceremony hosted by Delaware Emergency Management Agency Director Jamie Turner.
Past chief Jerry Unruh and his wife, Helen, raised the American flag.
Fire chief emeritus Robin Shetzler recognized special guests including Bill Phillips whose uncle, Milton Phillips, was the first chief of the fire company.
Fire company president emeritus Ike Guessford said the new firehouse is "wonderful, fantastic. The quality of materials and workmanship are top-of-the-line."
Building committee chairman Harvey C. Smith Jr., a past deputy chief, recounted the history of the firehouse. The original fire station, which opened in 1926, was located diagonally across the street to the west of the current fire station. The first fire station on the current site was built in 1934 and later the hall was added, with more additions through the years.
For this project, a large portion of the original building was demolished and the new larger station was built on the same footprint. Construction began in April 2012.
Smith thanked Ed Ide and Steve Ide from i3a Consulting Engineers & Construction Managers for all of their work on the project, and he thanked Fearn-Clendaniel Architects for bringing the fire company members' idea to fruition for a building with an 18th-century design.
Although the ceremony on Oct. 12 marked the opening of the station to the public, Smith said the members had held a special event at the new building several months earlier. On May 13, they held their first company meeting in the new station. After the meeting, the membership backed the 1926 Hale pumper into the station and blew the fire siren, symbolically putting the station back into service.
Smith thanked the other members of the building committee for all of their efforts: Brent Billings, Scott Brown, Frank Gant, Ken Getty, Ike Guessford, Jeff Rogers, Dan Vucci, and R.G. Whittington.
"I'd also like to thank all the members," Smith said. "Each and every one of you participated in this, with your ideas, with cleaning out the old station, with your assistance with the committee."
Project engineer Ed Ide said in working with the fire company members he experienced "a unity and a courtesy unlike any other project" with which he's been involved.
Although they had to overcome many hurdles with many government agencies and committees, Ide said the project was fun, and he thanked everyone for their help in accomplishing the job.
Page 2 of 2 - He and his brother Steve Ide, project manager, presented a symbolic gift to Odessa Fire Company President R.G. Whittington and Fire Chief Scott Brown: a shovel, which was used during the groundbreaking ceremony, mounted to a wooden beam from the original building at the site.
State Sen. Bruce Ennis, State Rep. Becky Walker, and County Councilman Bill Bell congratulated the fire company on the new building and for their service as firefighters to the community, county, and state.
Then the members held a housing ceremony for their three newest trucks that were never able to fit at the previous station.
The fire company also received plaques commemorating the opening of the new station from the Middletown Fire Company, presented by Chief Frank Bailey, and from the Delaware City Fire Company, presented by President Ed Kalinowski and 1st Vice President Mike McMichael.