Painting it red

Fundraiser is underway to improve the Fort Dodge Fire Department building’s appearance

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance Image Committee member Rhonda Chambers, at left, along with Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter, look at the old sign on the fire station. The sign, along with a repainting of the doors, are part of a fund raising effort to by the committee to improve the appearance of the building.

Organizers hope to improve the appearance of the Fort Dodge Fire Department’s station with an ongoing fundraising effort to pay for the upgrade.

The project, which is being headed by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance’s Image Committee, aims to spruce up the station at 1515 Central Ave.

Rhonda Chambers, director of aviation at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport and a member of the Image Committee, came up with the idea when driving past the fire station on her way to work every day.

She noticed how uneven parts of the station’s exterior look.

“The doors are different colors,” she said. “The signage, I think, is from the ’60s. It’s just a bad reflection of the great job they do for the city.”

-Submitted photo
This rendition, courtesy of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, shows newly painted doors and new signage for which the Image Committee’s fundraiser would pay.

Chambers brought the idea of the fundraiser to other committee members and they all agreed to support it.

Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter said he was excited to hear that the Growth Alliance wanted to improve the station.

In particular, he pointed to the sign as something he’s wanted to see replaced.

“It’s the original sign from 1965 and it used to be lighted,” he said. “That doesn’t work.”

In addition, more than 50 years of exposure to the elements have damaged the sign. Hergenreter said it is stained brown from copper runoff.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance Image Committee member Rhonda Chambers, at left, along with Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter, look at one of the doors at the fire station. As part of an fundraising effort by the committee, the doors would all be repainted and new signage installed.

“If you look at the sign, it looks kind of disgusting,” he said. “It’s got stains on it that we try to clean off.”

The plan is to use money from the fundraiser to replace the sign.

“It’ll be a lighted sign with a little more appealing look than the 1965 stained sign,” he said.

Hergenreter added that, when he became fire chief earlier this summer, one of his goals was to improve that sign.

“I’m glad that other people were seeing the same thing there,” he said. “It is an eyesore and needs to be replaced, so I think it’s a perfect project for the Growth Alliance Image Committee.”

The money will also go towards repainting the seven doors to the bays that house the department’s fire engines and ambulances.

Right now, all of the doors are painted varying shades of brown.

“We have had different doors put in at different times, so it’s all a different shade of brown,” Hergenreter said. “We’re looking at painting them traditional firehouse door red and having it so it’s all matching colors.”

The proposed improvements will not only update the fire station’s appearance, he said.

“That’s good for morale for the staff,” he said. “They’re pretty excited that the Growth Alliance took this project on.”

To raise awareness of the fundraiser, Chambers said the Growth Alliance has released an online video discussing the project.

She said there’s no set goal in mind for how much they want to raise.

“Anything that comes in for this project is going to go to the fire station,” she said. “Whatever that amount ends up being, it’s all going to the fire station.”

There is an account with the Fort Dodge Community Foundation for those interested in donating. Chambers said those who want to donate should write “Fire Department” in the memo box, and checks can be mailed to or dropped off at the Community Foundation, located at 24 N. Ninth St., Fort Dodge, IA 50501.