Firefighters are real life superheroes. They have a secret base filled with top of the line technology, they wear special uniforms and they do battle with all kinds of elements and use water to tame fire’s destructive nature. And, most importantly, they save lives.
So what happens when then the superheroes need help? They turn to their community. March 9 at 5 p.m., the Colfax Fire Department will host its 20th Annual Soup Supper. The supper has been used to raise funds for the Fire Department and has turned the Colfax department into one of the most well equipped small stations around and has become a big social event in town.
“Several years ago we thought we were pretty well stocked, it wasn’t anything we really thought we needed,” Dennis Lester, Colfax Fire Chief said. “So we were going to take a break from Soup Supper. We didn’t want to have a Soup Supper and ask people for money if we didn’t have any place to put it. We actually had several people call our chief, at the time, to make sure that we were still having a Soup Supper.”
“Well we hadn’t planned on it and they go, ‘You have to have it, we want to donate and this is a social event for us. We are looking forward to not only the soup, but just to see everybody in town,’” he continued. “So went well if the community wants it, then we really need to keep doing it.”
Lester is thankful for all the years of support his community has given them, and as a member of the department since 1979, he can fondly recall why they started the initial supper.
“Years ago, we were downtown in fire station that we were rapidly outgrowing,” he said. “We were to the point that we were parking trucks like a puzzle. If they didn’t go in like a puzzle they weren’t going in the building. It got so bad that we couldn’t put one of the trucks in until one of the other trucks was pulled out.”
“We went to the city to get a new fire station, and just like they are now funds were tight,” he continued. “All the funds were tight and they are trying to run the whole city and they didn’t have enough for just a station. So we started raising money to come up with a down payment for a fire station and we started having the Soup Suppers.”
After the success of the first supper they continued them to help their department stay updated without killing their budget.
“We originally started in the old fire station,” Lester said. “It was on broken concrete and uneven floors, when you were eating the tables were rocking cause the concrete was broke and the chair was rocking. After we got the new station, we kept having the Soup Suppers to pay down on the building, and then we got to the point where it was our main fundraiser for any equipment we want. Equipment like the above and beyond equipment makes it a lot easier for us and a lot quicker for the public if we have this equipment.”
Some of the top equipment the suppers have gotten the department are a brand new power cot, which is essentially a stretcher on steroids. It reduces strenuous lifting and has powered hydraulics to life and lower patients. Their department used to also maintain the county Jaws-of-Life set and the suppers enabled them to get their own. One recent great purchase has to be an AutoPulse machine. This device can essentially perform CPR on victims unassisted and would free up firefighters to help others while still saving a life.
With their older equipment they donate it, sell it and if it still useable under state guidelines they will continue to put it to work. Besides the equipment upgrades and social interaction, the soup itself is why people keep turning up year after year.
Ron Gearhart, the former fire chief, serves as the main cook and everything is made from scratch. They will have potato soup and chili, and salad and variety of desserts. All donations are free will donations and Lester truly appreciates the support his community has given them.
“It has taken a life force of it’s on,” Lester said. People are always looking forward to it. We are always exhausted at the end of the night but it’s always worthwhile. A lot of people like to come up to see where we are now from where we started and we have a lot of people that just want to come up and say thanks.”
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.