A city’s fire department is one of the most visible organizations in a community. Everyone is familiar with the huge red trucks racing down the streets, sirens blaring, to the nearest incident. Yet the individual firefighters are much less visible, they do not patrol like police, or make appearances like mayors or councilmen, but they play an incredibly important, and often heroic role in the community. Jeremy Himan, a lieutenant and veteran with the Portage Fire Department, opened up about his life as a firefighter.
Himan, born and raised in Beverly Shores and Pine Township, has lived in the Region all his life and currently resides in Chesterton with his wife and two sons. He graduated from Rogers High School, which later merged with Elston High School to become Michigan City High School. Work in emergency services is in his blood and he got into volunteer firefighting right out of high school.
“My grandpa was a fireman, my dad was a fireman, and I basically grew up in the fire service,” Himan said. “I started out at 18, volunteering in Beverly Shores, started working in the ambulance for Porter Memorial and applied to different fire departments.”
He found his place at the Portage Fire Department, where he has served for the last 16 years. Every day brings a new challenge for the crew at a fire station, which is what Himan finds himself enjoying most about the job.
“Every day is different,” he said. “Sometimes we’ll have a slow day where we don’t see a lot of odd or peculiar things, but sometimes we’ll get involved in something that’s totally off the wall that we’ve never seen or dealt with.”
Himan has one role that makes him unique among firefighters, he handles the department’s arson dog, Bosco. Not all cities will have one, but Portage saw the need and decided to train their own arson K-9. Bosco is an invaluable member of the fire station and Himan’s family.
“He is by my side 95% of the time,” Himan said. “He’s always with me, he goes on vacation with us, travels with us, and on my days off he’s at home with us. He’s a family dog and my boys love him like he’s their pet.”
The fire station has a unique culture, with 24-hours shifts, close quarters, and shared experiences in situations that are difficult mentally and physically, the crew shares a relationship much like family.
“Most times after a bad call we’ll come back to the fire station, sit down at the table, and talk amongst ourselves,” Himan said. “We’re within 8 feet of three to six other guys for 24-hours straight. Everyone has good days and bad days, so it’s kind of a unique situation where we’re working with our best friends. We know each other’s families, histories, basically everything about each other.”
When he’s not at the station, Himan is with his family. Their biggest hobby is traveling, the family has seen much of the States and loves taking chances to see more and get away from the usual routine.
“It’s fun to get out and away,” he said. “It’s nice to kind of be isolated and away from your day-to-day life.”
Despite his travels, it is always nice to come home. As a lifelong Region resident, he knows that there is no place quiet like our corner of Indiana.
“I grew up here, my family is all here, and I’ve never really considered moving away,” Himan said. “It’s the best of both worlds, we’re close to Chicago and pretty much anything else we’d want to do.”