February 7, 2024

Staff Excellence: Purdue University Fire Department

For more than 60 years, the Purdue University Fire Department has provided fire and rescue services to the West Lafayette campus. Currently, the department provides 24-hour service with three shifts, each consisting of seven firefighters, one lieutenant, one captain and one assistant chief. All PUFD firefighters are also trained as emergency medical technicians or paramedics.

pt-pufd-promotion-ceremony-800x533 Six firefighters were promoted during an advancement ceremony in August 2023. Pictured from left are Lt. Jamie Johnson, Lt. Bob Heisel, Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Kevin Luse, Assistant Chief Josh Gipson, Capt. Justin Marvin, Lt. Adam Bordner. Download image

In 2023 PUFD responded to around 3,000 calls for service. In addition to fire and emergency medical services, Purdue firefighters provide a number of other functions necessary to serve a large campus community. These services include high- and low-angle rope rescue, confined space rescue and hazardous materials response, fire and life safety inspections, and public education and outreach. 

The department also provides airport rescue and firefighting (ARFF) services at the Purdue University Airport. All firefighters are required to attend a rigorous 40-hour airport rescue and firefighting school at the South Carolina Fire Academy, which prepares each firefighter for aircraft and airport specific emergencies. 

Airport and aircraft specific training is then incorporated into the department’s annual training program. The Federal Aviation Administration annual training covers many topics, including aircraft familiarization, emergency aircraft evacuation and airfield driver training.

se-pufd-inset2 Purdue firefighter paramedics Ben Kuhn and Colin McCormick conduct an emergency evacuation training exercise at the Purdue University Airport. Download image

In addition to this specialized training, all certified airport firefighters annually participate in a live-fire training exercise, typically conducted at O’Hare International, Grissom Air Reserve Base or the Lexington Bluegrass Airport.

In 2023 PUFD responded to 13 aircraft-related emergencies and performed more than 140 airport standbys for passenger carrying operations. During each passenger flight that arrives or departs, at least one trained firefighter is stationed at the airport.

Additionally, ARFF trained firefighters share their knowledge with aviation students each semester, offering the opportunity to gain valuable experience with the specific equipment and training required to provide ARFF services.

PUFD is part of the Administrative Operations organization, which provides the university with safe, reliable and transformative services. Securing trained, experienced firefighter paramedics to serve the West Lafayette campus and Purdue University Airport is just one of the many ways the organization powers Purdue.

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