Odessa Fire Department History

Established in 1927

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Odessa Fire Department was Established in 1927

On August 4th, 1927, the Odessa City Council authorized the purchase of our first fire truck, hose, and other fire fighting equipment for approximately $9,000 dollars. The new fire truck
carried a heavy-duty high pressure water pump, a chemical tank with special hose, hook and ladder equipment and an adequate supply of large size hose. A total of 5,000 feet of hose was available for emergencies. At the time, the chemical apparatus would be the main reliance for combating small fires, as the new municipal waterworks system had not been completed. The water pump could be used in the event of fires in the business section by drawing water from storage tanks at the Ector County Courthouse, or at the railroad station. When the waterworks system, which was under construction at the time was completed, there would be fire hydrants available.



On September 20, 1927,
the preliminary organization of Odessa's Volunteer Fire Department was completed as Robert Morgan Neill was appointed Fire Chief.


 Robert Morgan Neill was Odessa's First Fire Chief. He served as chief for six years from 1927 to 1933. Chief Neill also served as a Captain in the Texas State Guard.


The first volunteers were P. J. Hubbard, A. J. Burkes, W. P. Scott, Pat Walsh, Sam McCowan, Joe McCowan, George Shows, Emery Jones, C. H. Stevenson, J. H. Price and C. H. Slaughter. During the beginning stages of setting up the Odessa Volunteer Fire Department decided to train the first volunteers through practice fire alarms as soon as the big fire siren on top the Citizens Bank was ready for operation.



dessa's first fire truck. From left to right are some of Odessa's first volunteer firefighters; Fire Chief Robert M. Neill, Sam McCowan, Joe McCowan, George Shows (Driver) Emery Jones, C. H. Stevenson, J. H. Price and C. H. Slaughter.  (J. H. Price's son Norman Price also became an Odessa firefighter in 1949 and retired as a Battalion Chief with over 40 years of service.)


torage and maintenance of  the first fire truck was the responsibility of George Shows. Since George was the driver it had to be parked close for him to run to and drive to the scene of a fire as fast as he could. The best place chosen at the beginning was at Robert M. Neill's garage which was located in the 100 block of South Lee and just happened to be across the street from George Shows' home.  The truck was kept at Robert M. Neill's garage as long as he was the Fire Chief.



 Mr. & Mrs. George & Pauline Shows are driving the Buffalo Fire truck in the 1928 4th of July parade on Grant street in downtown Odessa.