April 6, 1977, Quad-City Times

Q. Do you have any information on the first female firefighter in Davenport? — A reader

A. According to a news story published on Feb. 1, 2001, in the Quad-City Times, Sharon Iossi Kieffert, was not only the first woman firefighter to join the Davenport Fire Department but also the first professional female firefighter in the state of Iowa. The former physical education teacher joined the Davenport Fire Department on April 5, 1977, according to a story published in the Quad-City Times on April 6, 1977.

The news account from 1977 described the 5-foot, 7-inch, 23-year-old as good-naturedly sliding down a fire pole, pulling on her gear and jumping onto a fire truck for the media in the absence of an actual fire. "We just want to get some action," a TV newsman said. Her badge was pinned on her uniform three times by Mayor Robert Duax, the story said. News photographers kept arriving after the brief ceremony began. The event was re-enacted each time. "More than once she had to tell reporters she was just one of the fellas now," the story said.

"Then Chief Howard Goettsch alerted firefighters in the station the fire alarm was about to go off. There was no fire, but a radio newsman wanted some authentic background sound to go with his broadcast."

She participated Sunday in a practice fire staged in Eldridge, the story said. After that experience, she said the job is just what she was looking for. "I like the excitement, the rescue. It's suited for me."

To read more about Sharon Iossi Kieffert and other early female firefighters in the Quad-Cities and surrounding areas, visit qctimes.com/askthetimes.

Q. Recently, the Putnam Museum held a photo shoot to help celebrate the museum's anniversary. I'm sure I read that the museum hired a photographer from Kansas City. With all the push to hire and to buy locally and with all the great professional photographers in the Q-C, why did the Putnam go outside the area and at what expense? — Dan

A. We contacted the Putnam Museum to find out. Kim Findlay, president and CEO, responded:

"In answer to your reader's question about the photographer from Kansas City.

"The concept for the One By One community photo shoot was created by Tom Styrkowicz, photographer from Kansas City. When the Putnam learned of the concept, we embraced it as the perfect way for the Putnam to kick off a year-long celebration of 150 years serving our community. As we would respect any artist's creativity, we did not want to 'steal' Mr. Strykowicz’s original idea and implement it with other photographers. So, Mr. Styrkowicz is the principal photographer for the community shoots. (Due to the overwhelming response, he will be back the weekend of April 20). Meanwhile, local photographers will continue to be engaged in photo shoots at the Putnam monthly as we compile a photo book and calendar to celebrate the anniversary."

Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email ask@qctimes.com or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.