The Owego Fire Department (OFD) hosted a grand opening of Phase I of its new training facility on McMaster Street in the village on Saturday. Children enjoyed bounce houses, displays of fire apparatus and an emergency squad with hot dogs and hamburgers during the day.
Adults celebrated in the evening with live music from Tina and Sean Dolan opening for the Spelunkers. Owego’s Farmhouse Brewery highlighted the beer tasting with three other area breweries. Overall it was a day of celebration for many of the OFD members who have diligently worked since 2002 to bring the project to life.
The facilities classroom building, Phase I of the project, was completed this month. This includes a kitchen, classroom, weight room and meeting area. The department lost its kitchen and weight room during the 2011 flood.
Phase II of the project will focus on completing a live burn building. A main component of the overall facility, a live-burn building is designed to make training as realistic as possible. Tioga County currently does not have a live-burn building to train its firefighters. Department members expect construction on the burn building to continue next spring. Its foundation has already been placed.
The department has been fundraising for the project since 2002 through community donations, Monte Carlo nights, the Owego Fallen Firefighters Memorial Golf Tournament, car washes, chicken barbecues and grants. Members are proud that the majority of funding raised has been through non-governmental sources, easing the burden on taxpayers. More than 600 individuals, businesses, and other private entities have contributed to the project over the years.
During the event a plaque was presented to Owego Fire Chief Dan Gavin to commemorate the opening. Gavin’s father, Fallen Owego Firefighter Steve Gavin, was an original committee member on the project.
The plaque read: Dedication – Phase I Training Facility Building – Oct. 18, 2014.
The Owego Fire Department members would like to thank the countless businesses, individuals, and organizations whose generosity has made this Phase I training facility building possible. The first responders in Owego and the greater Southern Tier will be better trained through this first class facility.
A special thanks to Chief Richard “Dick” Fink and his original committee who started this project with a vision and a dream in 2001. Chief Fink’s perseverance will always be appreciated and he will always be remembered.
A special thanks to Chief Edward “Bucka” Franz and his committee and volunteers that carried on to build the shell of this building and rejuvenate the dream of completing this project. Chief Franz will always be appreciated and he will always be remembered.
A special thanks to the many volunteers who have given of their time and talents to be involved in this project in the past, present, and the future.
Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.