OTTUMWA — After 12 years of hosting Fire & Ice, the Evans Student Council and Ottumwa Fire Department have gotten into a pretty good routine.

“It pretty much plans itself,” Nicole Ward, student council advisor.

“The firefighters do a good job of setting it up. They show us around and we help out by serving the toppings and talking to people,” said Diana Nderi, student council co-president who was in her third year of serving the event Thursday afternoon.

“We couldn’t do this without the kids and our sponsors,” said Master Firefighter Ron Klein. “Culver’s and Hy-Vee provide all the treats.”

Ward said Hy-Vee has been a longtime sponsor, and Culver's called them this year wanting to help.

But the event isn’t just about ice cream. It’s an annual fundraiser the student council hosts to help raise money for the smoke detector program.

“It was their idea todo a community project 12 years ago,” Klein said of the student council. “It’s been going ever since.”

Ward and Klein said attendance varies year to year. They estimated about 150 people come through every year. “Hopefully we’ll top that as it turned out to be a nice day,” Klein commented.

He said detectors typically cost about $20 to purchase, and the Fire & Ice event has allowed the fire department to buy about 300 detectors throughout its duration.

“Our goal is to get a working smoke detector in every home in Ottumwa,” Klein said. “We have way too many house fires that don’t have good, working smoke detectors.”

For the kids enjoying the ice cream, though, there was more to see.

Kids were lining up to make their way through the fire safety trailer parked outside Central Fire Station. It provides an opportunity for people to experience making their way through a smokey environment without being in danger.

“We want to get some education out of it while they’re here,” Klein said.

For Nderi, it was more about community service.

“I think it’s important to have this. It’s just good to get the community involved in helping others and those in need.

“I like to see everybody together and helping each other and just have fun eating ice cream with their family.”

Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.


Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's magazine editor, leading production of "Ottumwa Life," the award-winning "Business People" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.