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University of Notre Dame Fire Department

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University of Notre Dame Fire Department
File:University of Notre Dame Fire Department Logo.png
Operational area
Country United States
State Indiana
CDPNotre Dame
Agency overview[1]
Established1879 (1879)
Annual calls~ 1500
EMS levelBLS
Facilities and equipment[2]
Official website

The University of Notre Dame Fire Department provides fire protection and emergency medical services to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The department is responsible for three colleges with a population of over 15,000 that grows to over 100,000 during football games.[3] The department is the oldest university fire department in the United States.[1]


The NFDF was established in the aftermath of the devastating fire of April 23, 1879, during which the University’s Main Building and several nearby structures were destroyed.[1] While there was no loss of life from this fire, it took three weeks for the ruins to stop smoldering and the extreme damage required a massive reconstruction effort the following summer in order to save the institution.

As early as 1846, Notre Dame had acquired a “fire engine” of sorts, which was stored under a shed near the campus’ dog kennel and various Congregation of Holy Cross Brothers were given assignments as part of the “fire company.” It is highly doubtful that this fire engine would bear any resemblance to anything we would consider as a fire engine today. It was most likely a pumping mechanism for a firefighting water supply from the nearby lakes. At the time, a fire company member’s main duties were to procure buckets, axes and other tools to combat the fire.[4]

In 1871, Father John Zahm and Father Andrew Morrissey, priests at Notre Dame, proposed that a fire department be established on campus. On November 21, 1879, the local Provincial Council of the Congregation of Holy Cross stated that, “...the organization of a fire department under Father Zahm should be immediately formed.” One company was located behind Sorin Hall, a second was positioned behind the Main Building and a third was housed in the Holy Cross Gymnasium.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "History". Notre Dame Fire Department. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  2. "Apparatus". Notre Dame Fire Department. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  3. "About NDFD". Notre Dame Fire Department. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  4. Hope, Arthur (1943). Notre Dame - One Hundred Years, University of Notre Dame Press

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