Note: This feature is in the Oct. TT&C 2019 issue.
History rests within the walls of the Clear Lake Fire Museum, with exhibits ranging from a full-size 1924 Ahrens-Fox Pumper Engine to several display cases filled with model fire trucks.
The Clear Lake Fire Museum, the first museum of its kind in Iowa, was dedicated on Sept. 3, 1986, by then Gov. Terry Branstad at the start of the Iowa Firefighters Association Convention in the city. The idea to build a museum, however, started in 1979, when the volunteer firefighters of Clear Lake, Iowa, needed more space to store the city’s still-operative, historic Ahrens-Fox Pumper Engine, which the fire department had purchased new in 1924.
“We’ve had that truck a long time,” said Mike Keefe, the assistant fire chief in Clear Lake. He also worked for 32 years for the Iowa fire marshal’s office, investigating fires, until retiring. The city donated land and $30,000 in seed money to build the museum, and the volunteer firefighters raised the remainder of the necessary funds. The Clear Lake Firefighters Association then hired an architect who designed the museum to replicate a 1924 single-bay fire station, Keefe said. A contractor placed the basement and framed the building, then the firefighters went to work to finish the museum’s construction.