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Iowa town’s fire chief says he won’t eat until he raises $480,000

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The fire chief in Lehigh, Iowa went on a hunger strike as part of his plea for money needed to build a new firehouse.

Lehigh Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kirk Kelley lost 28 pounds between June 23 and July 15, 2014, after he reduced his diet to water, protein shakes and chicken broth.

Kelley said he tried several times to get funding and loans for the department, which serves three towns in a 70-mile radius southeast of Fort Dodge. The department responds to approximately 70 calls per year.

The department needs $480,000 to replace its old, outdated fire station with a larger facility. The new fire station would include a meeting/training room, kitchen and dining area and a second restroom, according to the department’s fundraising post on

The 17 firefighters at the Lehigh Fire Department are all volunteers, and Kelley said they are all EMT trained.

“Most of our district consists of low to middle income families so our situation financially isn't great for this project,” the gofundme post said.

“I'm keeping to my promise as long as this takes to make the money for our Fire Department I will not eat anything. Some people have called it crazy and ridiculous but to me it is about the two most important things in the fire service Dedication and Sacrifice,” Kelley said in a post on the department’s Facebook page.

The Lehigh Fire Department also posted plans for a rummage sale to help their fundraising effort.