NDFD Mission Statement:The University of Notre Dame Fire Department (NDFD) is dedicated to the preservation of life and property and to the promotion of fire safety through public education, inspections and fire protection system maintenance.
The Notre Dame Fire Department is America’s first University fire department and has served the University of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College, Holy Cross College and surrounding areas since 1879. Serving three colleges, 15,000 citizens, and a population that swells to over 100,000 during a football game, the demands are high on the Notre Dame Fire Department.
Members of the University of Notre Dame Fire Department devote a significant portion of their lives by working 24 hours shifts to safeguard the Notre Dame Community. “Everybody in the firehouse wants to be here, they are excited to make a difference. So the sacrifice is part of our calling,” says Assistant Chief Tim Hoeppner.
As a full service safety agency, NDFD is a vital component of the University’s mission to provide a safe environment for faculty, staff, students and visitors. NDFD has evolved from volunteers responding to ringing alarms to a professional department that seeks to prevent fires through public education, fire code inspections and fire protection system maintenance. “We are trained and equipped to respond to the 1300 calls for service we receive annually” says Fire Chief Bruce Harrison. The modern day Notre Dame Fire Department has 16 full time firefighters. The chief, assistant chief, and two fire protection technician/firefighters work weekdays while the three rotating 24 hour shifts are each staffed with a captain, a lieutenant, and two firefighter/emergency medical technicians. Thirty part-time firefighters are used for shift vacancies, football games and other special events.
When asked about the preparation for a home football weekend, Fire Chief Bruce Harrison explains his group is excited for the opportunity to serve the University. "We prepare every day as if it were a game day and everyone here takes pride in being a part of the game day experience. To be there when we are needed, to direct, or interact…whatever we are called to do. We are an enthusiastic group that takes pride in having a plan and executing. However, we don’t service our community alone during football weekends. Groups like the South Bend Fire Department, Clay Fire Department, and the F.A.S.T. team inside the stadium are monumental to our success. Notre Dame is very large city on Game Day and without the added assistance of these individuals, some of whom are volunteers, it would almost be impossible to efficiently respond to all of the requests. " These efforts have produce great results, including a less than 2.2 minute average response time and a reputation of skilled and compassionate service.
NDFD is an important part of the Notre Dame family. “It’s amazing how many people stop by the firehouse on game day to say hello, and we appreciate every single one of them. At the end of the day we are here to serve and protect our community and that is what we live by. To have the opportunity to wear the Blue and Gold Maltese Cross, it’s truly an honor” says Harrison.
On a football weekend it is more than fitting to celeberate those who are of service to our nation and communities. Without such individuals, enjoying a football game in a safe environment would not be possible. Each Game Day, be sure to take a moment and give thanks to the brave men and women who risk their lives every day to protect our lives, homes and property. When you see firefighters on Game Day, and every day, be sure to thank them for their service, bravery, and sacrifice.