HANCOCK COUNTY — For over 34 years, longtime county resident Jay Settergren has been working for the Indianapolis Fire Department where he’s been a training manager for Indiana Task Force 1.
Settergren, who is known to burn the candle at both ends trying to make sure firefighters are trained properly, has been recognized by the Knightstown American Legion Post 152 as the American Legion Indiana District 10 Firefighter of the Year.
District 10 represents 26 different Legions from Indianapolis to the Indiana/Ohio line, including Hancock County, Shelbyville, Richmond, Morristown, Eaton and Centerville.
Settergren, who was in the process of setting up two different full-scale training exercises for firefighters, with hundreds of participants, took a few minutes from the preparations to talk about the award.
“I was surprised by the nomination and then by winning the award,” Settergren said. “It’s something you never look for or need to get, but it sure was awfully nice to receive the letter saying that I had been selected.”
Settergren said a firefighter knows going into the career that sometimes the work will be recognized and sometimes it won’t, but that’s not why anyone ever becomes a career firefighter.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s daily work or putting on a good exercise training program, you just want to make sure everyone is safe when we go on a deployment and that we return in the same condition as when we left,” Settergren said. “A lot of times no one ever really sees all the behind-the-scenes work we do, so it is nice to get an award like this.”
Settergren, 56, has been a Son’s of the American Legion member in Knightstown for decades. His father and older son have both served in the military along with his grandfather and uncles.
“For most of the time we’ve lived in Hancock County, I’ve been a Post 152 member, so my interaction with everyone there I guess made them want to recognize me with the award,” Settergren said.
While Settergren has 34 years of firefighter service under his belt, he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. However, he is starting to think about stepping down on July, 4, 2026. He noted that he’ll officially need to sign-up for the three-year retirement countdown in a few weeks on July 4.
“We know we need to get the next group of people lined up and ready to go when I’m gone because three years will fly by in a hurry and that next group has got to be ready to go,” Settergren said.
Settergren however will get to stay on the INTF-1 team as a leader when he retires, but will no longer be a firefighter. He will instead be a part of the team as a civilian.
The one thing Settergren said he’s looking forward to is the possibility of working with his sons, who are both first responders. He’s got one son who is a police officer while the other has hired on with Sugar Creek Township Fire Department.
“Both my sons have the ability to be on our Taskforce-1 team if they chose to and that would be another fun thing to look forward to down the road if it ends up happening,” Settergren said.
As for his family, wife Tammy Settergren noted she could not be more proud of her husband for winning the District 10 Firefighter of the Year due to all the hard work he’s done for firefighters and communities throughout Indiana and more.
“I know as his wife of 25 years and also our son, Chase, who just graduated college got hired on Sugar Creek Fire Department, we could not be more proud of the heart, soul and dedication Jay has put in on the fire department and Indiana Task Force 1 over his 34-year career,” she said.