Veteran firefighter brings 40 years of professional experience to teaching
KOKOMO, Ind. — Jeff Hayes, a veteran of more than 40 years of service as an emergency responder, investigator and trainer, has been named program chair of the Homeland Security and Public Safety program at Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region.
In this role, Hayes will direct the Ivy Tech program that can lead to certificates in Fire Service Administration and Fire Prevention and Investigation and to Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees in Homeland Security and Public Safety. The program prepares graduates for jobs in emergency management, environmental health and safety, firefighting and public administration. The Associate of Science degree can also serve as the first two years of a four-year bachelor’s degree.
“I’ve spent my life in emergency service as a way to make the world a little bit better for my being here,” Hayes said, “and my passion now is to share what I’ve learned with others. I’m very excited to have this opportunity to work with the students of Ivy Tech Kokomo Region.”
Hayes has been in public safety since he graduated from high school, starting out as a volunteer for a local volunteer fire department with the goal of becoming an EMT, a certification he earned in 1975 through Ivy Tech. As he moved through his career, he earned an associate’s degree in Fire Science from Ivy Tech, then a bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in Management. He studied emergency medicine at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, went through the special deputy school at the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, and earned certifications in everything from firefighting to hazardous materials to fire investigation and more from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
Along with more than 23 years with the Washington Township Fire Department in Marion County, Hayes worked for a number of years on days off as a forensic fire investigator investigating the origin and cause of fires around Indiana. He was appointed by the governor to the Indiana Board of Firefighting Personnel Standards & Education, started the Marion County Fire Investigators Task Force, helped to start the Marion County Hazardous Materials Task Force and has led the Indiana Association of Arson Investigators and the Delaware Township Board in Hamilton County.
Describing his move into education, Hayes noted, “As an individual, I can only touch one life, one family at a time. As an educator, I can reach more people in many more situations through the students that I teach. Teaching allows me to ‘bring the ink off the pages,’ to bring the textbook lessons to life by sharing what I’ve learned over the years.”
For many years, Hayes trained other first responders as a full-time firefighter and he helped write the guidelines for firefighting education for the Indiana Department of Education. For 11 years, he taught firefighting and emergency medical services at the J. Everett Light Career Center in Indianapolis and for eight years, taught in Ivy Tech’s fire science program in Indianapolis.
Hayes said his goal as program chair of Homeland Security and Public Safety is to offer real-life lessons and hands-on experience with today’s high-tech emergency equipment to help students develop the critical thinking, problem-solving and technical skills needed to succeed in the field.
“These are jobs where you can really make a difference with a focus on prevention,” he said. “My motto: There’s no pride in putting out any fire that could have been prevented or treating any injury that could have been avoided.”
Hayes and his wife, a registered nurse at St.Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, have three grown children –an orthopedic surgeon, a high school Spanish instructor and department chair, and a recent college graduate in marketing and advertising – and three grandchildren.