by: Amicia Ramsey
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Fred Pervine is seasoned veteran for Indianapolis Fire Department and the current fire chief at the Indianapolis International Airport.
He lives by the mantra “anything is possible,” and joined the short list of Black fire chiefs in the airport’s history, a testament to his dedication and hard work.
Chief Pervine grew up in an Indianapolis neighborhood where few firefighters looked like him, but he says that didn’t discourage him from pursuing his dream. Instead, the lack of representation was one motivating factor that inspired him to pursue a career in firefighting and make a change
“One thing in the community where I grew up, I didn’t see that many Black firefighters where I was living. All I wanted was an opportunity. I didn’t want anybody to give me anything, just give me the opportunity, and I will succeed. It is really rewarding because you are helping people and making a difference in people’s lives,” Pervine said.
Pervine got his first start as an emergency medical technician (EMT), but he knew the ultimate goal was to become a firefighter, and it was through hard work and dedication that he rose through the ranks.
“I am very grateful for the journey. I learned a lot. I came into the fire department when I was 22 years old. The fire department grew me up. I was on special teams, the dive team, heavy extrication, and rope repealing, and it helped me to conquer fears,” Pervine said.
The Indianapolis Airport Authority hired Pervine in 2021. Prior to his appointment, James Underwood served as the first Black fire chief for the airport in the 1980s and 1990s. According to Indianapolis Airport Authority, Underwood was the leader during the Oct. 20, 1987, U.S. Air Force A-7 D-4-CV Corsair II crash into the Indianapolis Ramada Inn, when he demonstrated his expertise and commitment to the safety of the airport and the community.
Before Pervine was appointed to Indianapolis Airport Authority, he held leadership roles during his 35-year career with the Indianapolis Fire Department. His leadership is centered around a community-oriented approach that prioritizes safety and communication.
“Every morning, I have to have it in my mind that this could be the day. I have to walk through my mind and ask, ‘What would I do if A, B, and C happen?’ I have to think about what could happen because the world’s eye will be on me,” Pervine said.
The Indianapolis airport’s fire chief says he is committed to continuing his legacy of promoting safety at the airport and improving the lives of Hoosiers. His accomplishment marks a significant moment in the city’s history and exemplifies how diversity and inclusion can be achieved in the workplace.
The Indianapolis Airport Authority seeks people interested in becoming firefighters’ EMTs. The government agency will host career outreach programs this spring.