Ernest V Malone was born and raised in Indianapolis. A true product of his hometown, Ernest was told he could accomplish anything he wanted… and he believed it. During his childhood, Ernest lived in two homes within the IFD service district. The first was at 3116 Ruckle St and the second at 5408 E 40th St.
He fondly remembers both and says that he often drives by just to reflect and remember where he came from. He attended IPS schools 42 & 53 and says his favorite 7th grade math teacher, Mrs. Gray, told him to “Study hard and pay attention. Reach for stars and you can do anything you want.” Malone would tell you that those words resonated with him and helped encourage his love for continued education to this day. A triple threat athlete at Arlington High School, Ernest played football (Running Back – Linebacker), Basketball (Guard) and Baseball (Infield). His favorite subjects? Math, Business and US History.
He graduated in 1981. Chief Malone’s accomplishment’s also include a Master’s Degree in Management from Indiana Wesleyan, an Associate Degree in Fire Science from Ivy Tech, Executive Fire Officer Certification from the National Fire Academy and is the 1st Indianapolis Firefighter ever to receive the designation of Chief Fire Officer from the Center for Public Safety Excellence
Ernest took his first job in 1976, at age 14, working at “Meadows Bowl” as a porter. When it closed, he began working at Miracle Lanes Bowl. Fast forward to 1985. Ernie will tell you that he did not know anyone on or anything about the IFD nor did he have any prior aspirations to be a firefighter. But as fate would have it, a walk through the Indiana Black Expo would change his life forever. It was there he met and was recruited by Lt. Eddie Rogers (IFD Ladder 19B). Ernest was taken by Eddie’s excitement about the job of being a firefighter and his obvious love for firefighting. Later that week he had a follow up conversation with Eddie who convinced him to apply for the IFD.
Because both departments were actively hiring at the time, Ernest ended up applying to both IFD and IPD and was still in IPD’s process when the IFD hired him. As any firefighter would jokingly tell you…”he definitely got in the right line.”
Malone was working as a Loss Prevention manager at Target, making $23,500, when he was hired by IFD on February 25, 1986 at a starting salary of $13,500. He was 23 years old. During his career Ernest remembers Eddie saying “I don’t take credit for a lot but I am taking credit for you.” Lt. Eddie Rogers retired from the IFD in 2006. He died only months later of pancreatic cancer. He was one of the greats.
Ernie knows firsthand that legacy and connections to the fire service are important but he emphasizes that opportunities exist for those who don’t have them. He believes that recruiting is important.