History of the Purdue Fire Department

In October 1963, Purdue University proudly inaugurated its own fire department. Eleven firefighters, under the direction of Fire Chief Walter Hart, were housed in the old Naval Armory, on the site of the current Heine Pharmacy Building. During that first year, the department made 92 emergency calls responding with its only fire apparatus, a 1963 100-foot Seagrave aerial ladder.

Picture of fire Department in 1965

In 1965, the fire department moved to its present location at the Clayton W. Dement Fire Station on 1250 3rd Street. Today, under the leadership of Fire Chief Kevin Ply, 32 dedicated professional firefighters respond to nearly 2,700 runs while serving a growing Purdue community of over 50,000 people on any given day.

The Purdue University Fire Department provides more than just fire protection services. Purdue firefighters are uniquely trained to respond to the many different challenges that a large educational institution may encounter. From a hazardous material incident, to an advanced life support medical call, a severe weather emergency, airport rescue, confined space rescue, rope rescue or even an elevator rescue. Each Purdue Fire Department member holds a State of Indiana certification for firefighter, EMT or paramedic, airport firefighter, Hazardous Material Technician, as well as other specialized fire department training requirements.

The fire department is staffed with all career professionals. Three shifts rotate on a 24 hour work schedule. Each shift has one Assistant Chief, one Captain, and seven firefighters. The Fire Chief, Fire Prevention-Lieutenant and Fire Prevention Specialists work throughout the week.

In January 2008, Purdue Fire expanded the fire department's services with a full-time (sworn) Fire Prevention Specialist - Lieutenant. The purpose of this position is to focus on educating the diverse groups of students, faculty and staff on a variety of fire prevention and safety topics, as well as, conduct and oversee the fire prevention division, fire & life safety inspections, campus AED program and required fire drills. In 2011, the fire prevention division expanded with two additional full-time (non-sworn) Fire Prevention Specialists.

The dedicated professionals that have served and those that continue to serve are proud of the growth and history of the fire department. Today, Purdue University is the only Big Ten college campus to have a Fire Department. We thank you for your support and are delighted to be serving the Purdue community.