The county’s largest fire station and one of the most secure buildings in western Kentucky is less than a month away
from opening its doors to the firefighters manning it at the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport.
The new Daviess County Airport Fire Station, set to meet the airport’s stringent Federal Aviation Administration
requirements and serve the county’s west side, is expected to be complete in mid-December. Once it is up and running,
the more than 15,000-square-foot facility could become the center of emergency operations in western Kentucky, as
well as a focal point for emergency training.
Bob Whitmer, director of the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport, said the station was recommended by the
FAA, but it also serves as a complement to the reinforced runway that makes the airport a strategic planning area in an
event like a devastating earthquake.
“Another component to this is being a disaster readiness center for western Kentucky for food and supplies to come in,”
Whitmer said. “We’re the only airport in western Kentucky that is rated to operate after something like the 1811
The new fire station has been built with the same stability in mind. Construction was estimated to cost about $5.5
million with 90 percent coming from federal money, 5 percent from state and 5 percent covered by Daviess Fiscal
Court. A large portion of that cost could be attributed to the amount of steel and concrete included in the structure.
Joe Snyder, project superintendent with ARC Construction, said he has seen a lot of structures in his 40 years in the
business — including part of a dam – but the fire station was different.
“I’ve built a lot of things, but the amount of concrete and rebar we’ve placed here is more than I have ever seen,”
Snyder said.
As a part of the building’s seismic requirements, 1,165 drains connected to individual pipes run 50 feet below the fire
station to prevent water from being pushed against the foundation of the building in the event of a devastating
The new station’s three-door bay will be able to fit two special fire suppressant vehicles, a fire engine and the command
vehicle, and also features its own training tower. On the tower’s third floor, Chief Dwane Smeathers also scored a
model of an airplane door so firefighters can have more realistic rescue training at the airport.
“I’ve been impressed with the building and the overall construction of it,” Smeathers said.
With the bells and whistles, the station also has strategic storage and work areas that keep fire equipment possibly
covered with carcinogenic materials away from station’s living quarters.
The current airport fire station is 45 years old and would have required extensive repairs and upgrades to improve the
quality of the firefighters’ downtime. Buildings like the fire station built by FAA specifications are only expected to last for
40 years.
Along with being worse for wear, the old airport fire station has been suffering from growing pains for quite some time.
Smeathers said the station only housed two firefighters per shift until he increased each shift to three in the late 1980s.
Now the old station houses up to five people per shift.
While the department’s responsibilities will remain mostly unchanged by the new station, Smeathers said the
firefighters stationed there should receive some much-needed relaxation from upgraded living quarters.
“When we first met to discuss the design of this station, I was asked to describe what it is I wanted out of it,” Smeathers
said. “I said I wanted something functional and my firemen to be comfortable.”

Published on November 20, 2018