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Odessa Fire Department celebrates 100 years

ODESSA—The community was invited to celebrate the Odessa Fire Department’s 100th anniversary, Saturday, July 10.
An open house was held, with old and new equipment, photos, archives, and videos on display.    Deputy Chief John D. Jelliff said in 1905 the community purchased a hand pumper and hose cart, which was also at the event.
Jelliff explained from 1905 to 1910, the Odessa community depended on volunteers to respond to fires using the pumper.  However, he said that just wasn’t working, so in 1910, the Odessa Fire Department was Incorporated.  That was what the anniversary was celebrating.
Jelliff said in 1911 the fire department started operating out of the Odessa Opera House, down the road from where the department currently is.  He explained in 1970, Odessa had to build a new fire house because the old one was deemed a safety and health hazard, and was condemned.
Over the years though, Jelliff said the records weren’t kept and saved that well.  In fact, he explained a fire in the 1980s at a former secretary’s house destroyed a number of records.  Jelliff said that was when records were moved to the fire department.  Some of the old files on display showed signs of surviving that fire.
He added that when it was all stored, the files weren’t organized very well.  However, Jelliff has gone through it since then.
On display were old handbooks, membership lists, documents, and photos.  A whole table was devoted solely to newspaper clippings from many area papers.  While former equipment was displayed inside, the new trucks were parked outside.
One display, set up over several tables, honored past Odessa fire chiefs with photographs. 

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