by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--For the crews of Station 4, an average day will be a lot more than just responding to fires and other emergencies.
Looking at it from the outside, there is definitely more than meets the eye to the station. And as we found out, it's just another, in a series of firsts for the city, the college and the fire department.
"13 years ago, whenever Odessa College actually took the training of the fire cadets, we were one of the first colleges to implement that program," David Parker, Coordinator of the Odessa College Fire Academy, said.
Aside from the usual fire and emergency runs, Station 4 will serve as training facility for fire cadets from Odessa College and E.C.I.S.D., giving them first hand exposure to the life of a firefighter.
According to Odessa Fire Chief, Rick Dietz, "They'll ride out, make actual runs, observing what's going on. It'll enable them to make some decisions on whether this is indeed how they want to enter this kind of career."
With a huge demand for firefighters all over, the hope is to keep these new recruits right here at home. "What better way to do that, than to recruit right out of high schools and to train high school students to be firefighters and emergency medical technicians and allow them to go right to work in a fire department, right here in Odessa," Parker explained.
Some things in the new station are different than they were during Chief Dietz's days as a firefighter, "When I came to work for the fire department, the bedroom area was one great big room, with beds lined up against the wall. They're designed, now, for a little bit more privacy. There's individual, small dorms for each of the firefighters that works here."
Dietz says there is one feature that puts a lot of power in the firefighters own hands. It's a button that controls the signal light at the intersection just outside the station, "It changes the signal to green so all the traffic in front of the station moves before they are ready to get on the truck and enter on to Golder."
Station 4 is one of the busiest in town, making it an attractive location to firefighters already with the department, who like going out on a lot of runs.