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William B. Phelps, Odenton Volunteer Fire Company, Marbery F. Gates Service Cup Award
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By Member John Long, Jr.
June 26, 2018

Odenton VFC
Marbery F. Gates Service Cup Award

William B. “Byron” Phelps was a recipient of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) Marbery F. Gates Service Cup Award on June 19, 2018.
Byron joined the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company (OVFC) on November 12, 1942 and has 75 years of service. He has the longest tenure of any current member and the OVFC is proud that he continues to play a part in the company's success. Considering OVFC was established in 1931, Byron joined while much of our organization was still in its formative stage and his participation has been a great influence on what the company is today. Even the current OVFC firehouse was not built until 1943, one year after Byron became a member.

Over his volunteer fire service history, Byron has remained a valuable contributor to our company. Spend an hour with Byron over a cup of coffee and you will learn much about the history of OVFC and the fire service in general. They didn't have horses when he started, but many of the fire suppression methods and equipment were primitive compared to today's standards. Byron's life experiences permit you to walk through that path of progress.

Byron has served the OVFC in a wide variety of responsible positions. On the administrative side, he served on the Board of Directors in 1962, 1964 to 1967, 1974, and 1977. He served as Treasurer from 1968 to 1971, and in 1973. He was also on the Hall Rental, Carnival, Bingo, Apparatus, and Building Committees at various times. In operations, he served as Second Lieutenant in 1955 to 1959, Lieutenant in 1960 to 1967, and as Captain in 1967 and in 1969 to 1972. While he never aspired to be the Chief or the President, that is actually a statement of his dedication to just being one of the troops and doing whatever was necessary to get the job done.

Byron was one of the most dedicated and dependable drivers that our company had for many years. Call him at any time of the day or night to fill our station or transfer an engine to another station, and Byron was right there. Schedule a training drill, and Bryon was there to assist and teach the younger members the right way to handle a hose line or drive a pumper. Today he still regularly attends the company fundraisers to include Oyster and Bull Roasts, Food Truck Thursdays, and Crab Feasts. He was also an active participant in the MSFA conventions and the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association (AACVFA) meetings for many years. Byron was enrolled in the AACVFA Hall of Fame in September 2010.

Byron has dutifully served the interests of the OVFC and the fire service across Anne Arundel County and Maryland for over 75 years. He serves as a role model and mentor for each person that he meets.

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