Notre Dame Fire Department marks 135 years

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - On Friday, the Notre Dame Fire Department turned 135 years old. It is the oldest university-based fire department in the nation.

March 20, 1879, University of Notre Dame founder Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C. wrote a memo to University President Rev. William Corby C.S.C. revealing he was 'terribly afraid of fire.'

"Father Sorin always identified that one of the greatest threats to the growth of the university was fire," said Notre Dame Fire Chief Bruce Harrison.

The Notre Dame Fire Department was a part of new and developing firefighting technology in 1879 when fire prevention became a top priority.

And for Father Sorin it meant protecting the university and community he had founded.

"They started having the mindset where they were going to try to prevent those because they did cause a lot of damage and did threaten communities," said Harrison.
Today, the fire department serves an even greater community-providing mutual aid to South Bend and Clay Township fire departments.
"That means in a time of great need, they are ready to help us and we try to do as best as we can to also prepare and help others in our area," said Harrison.
There won't be any kind of celebration on the department's birthday.

Harrison says his battalion will quietly continue to serve-committed to a mission that was established more than a century ago.

"This day will quietly come and go and that's what I'm most proud about. The fire department is not a new member to the university community or to this area and our goal is to deliver the services best we can," said Harrison.

The fire department is made up of 18 full time members and they respond to more than 1800 calls each year.

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