COLFAX – Colfax Fire Department first responders – these men and women are the first to the scene when tragedy strikes the small town of about 2,000. From devastating house fires to sudden cardiac emergencies, these volunteers drop time at work or with their families to help their neighbors in their time of need.
The community will be given the opportunity to support the 35-member department at 5 p.m. Saturday. And all residents have to do is enjoy a tasty bowl of homemade soup.
“Our annual soup supper fundraiser is March 10,” Dennis Lester, 39-year CFD member said. “Over the years, we have used that fundraiser to buy things beyond our budget ... the fire department is really expensive to operate and keep up to date.”
Back in 1994, Colfax Fire Department started serving patrons bowls of soup to help purchase a brand new fire station. The CFD volunteers would serve up patrons a hearty bowl of soup and simply ask for a free-will donation of any amount. In only a couple years, the department received enough funding from the once-a-year event to purchase property and put a down payment for a new building.
Now 24 years later, the event is still riding the momentum from the first event. Every year, hundreds of residents come out to the fire station at 113 W. State St. to show their support and enjoy the department’s famous homemade, firehouse chili and potato soup.
“For one year, we didn’t have anything specific that we wanted, so we decided we didn’t want a soup supper. We don’t have anything specific we wanted. People started calling (our chief) and started complaining to him,” Lester said. “They said, ‘This is a social event. We want the soup supper. We will give you money. Spend it on whatever you want.’”
According to Lester, the annual fundraiser will help with uptake and maintenance at the station, and also help fund updates in technology and resources to better serve the community.
The department recently purchased a $98,500 brush truck, a $4,944.30 radio upgrade, a $10,722.43 in-motion computer and a $10,705.07 ambulance upgrade for defibrillator transmitting capabilities. In addition, the 35-volunteer staff requires training and constant certification to ensure they are executing up-to-date techniques and practices when responding to a call.
Lester said by supporting this year’s fundraiser, it will help keep the small volunteer fire department stay competitive with any other department in the state.
“Our officers are constantly working to make sure we are up to standard for what the insurance companies want for the homeowners and taxpayers. They look at manpower at the station,” he said. “Being a volunteer department, they automatically get dinged because they think we aren’t there. But they look at our response times, even though we are volunteer and are not at the station, they think there is someone there all the time ... when you compare our response time to other stations, we are pretty darn close.”
The longtime CFD member said this annual event also allows the people to meet the first responders face-to-face and get to know them on a personal basis. As most people meet CFD members in the most unfortunate circumstances, this annual supper allows the community to get to share a conversation with CFD without the high-stress environment.
He said the firefighters and EMTs will have plenty of interesting stories to share.
“One that will stick with me for a long time is we got a call of a woman who was possibly in labor, and I was actually one of the later was on scene. Turns out, she was in labor, which was very terrifying at the time, but we ended up delivering the baby at the Mitchellville Rest Area. We went from terrifying to walking in the clouds,” Lester said. “Years later, that (baby) was in an accident and we took him on LifeFlight. He sent us a picture of him saying, ‘Thanks for saving me again.’”
To help make donating tax-deductible and a little easier for members of the community, the Colfax Fire Department established a 501(c)(3) organization this year. The establishment of the Colfax Fire Association Inc. has been in development for more than a year and launched in January.
Lester said tax-deductible donations written out to the Colfax Fire Association will be accepted at Saturday’s fundraiser.
“It is chance to see first-hand just what we have available for them, to protect them, to keep their insurance down,” Lester said. “This wouldn’t be available without help from the community.”
For more information, call 515-674-9113 or find Colfax Fire Department on Facebook.
Contact Anthony Victor Reyes at firstname.lastname@example.org.