The whole community is being invited to the Hope Fire Station for an open house that will shower recognition on volunteer fighters and the people who support them.

But the biggest recognition of all at the 6 p.m. Saturday event is being reserved for Merrill Clouse, the late community leader who was instrumental in forming the Hope Volunteer Fire Department and served as its fire chief for 26 years.

Program leaders will unveil a plaque that will dedicate the station in his honor.

Clouse died in April at the age of 96.

"We want to make sure everyone gets the recognition they deserve," current Fire Chief Randy Wood said.

He said the department's 23 firefighters sacrifice so much to be at the beck and call of any emergency dispatch that comes their way. He said his appreciation runs so deeply that he closed down the fire station for about an hour recently so firefighters could participate in the Hope Heritage Days parade. Meanwhile, Wood and his cousin from out of town manned the phones, he said, and even had to call a few of the firefighters off the float when an emergency call came.

"They sacrifice so much every day," he said.

Wood said the presentation portion of the evening would last for about an hour and include cake and punch. Tours of the fire station, 103 Aiken St., will be given either before or after the event, depending on people's preferences.