Charges leveled on fire safety

July 1, 1994 (~estimated)

Charges leveled on fire safety

State health agency probes Princeton Fire Department

By Hank Kalet

Staff Writer

A complaint alleging that the Princeton Fire Department is in violation of numerous safety procedures has been filed with the state Health Department.

Borough officials, who administer the joint borough and township fire department, were notified last week of the alleged violations. They have 30 days to respond.

The complaint, filed with the Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Program June 10, lists six potential violations, including not having a written physical fitness evaluation plan, not having clearly defined training procedures and not having a plan to deal with hazardous materials.

The complaint and letter, which was received by Borough Mayor Marvin Reed on Wednesday, said that it is “not a citation, nor is it a notification of proposed penalty.”

Mayor Reed said Monday the complaint “touched on a number of areas that are in discussion” by borough and fire department officials, including…

equipment procedures and physical exams.

“My impression is that the state is willing to come out and work with us,” he said. “They are primarily concerned with the municipality making physical exams and certain protective equipment available.”

Firefighters protested proposed mandatory physicals in May, saying that the health tests could force a large number of firefighters to resign from the 270-man volunteer department.

The borough and the fire department currently are discussing the physicals and training regulations that would detail the level of training necessary for each level of fire department membership.

Mayor Reed said he expects the borough to request a waiver of the 30-day response period “because just to do the paperwork would take us longer than the time they are allowing.”

“We’ve indicated to the state that much of these items are already part of a review that we are undertaking,” he said. “I get the indication that because of that they are likely to be a little flexible.”

The Borough Council is scheduled to discuss the complaint at its meeting tonight.

Borough Administrator Tom Shan-non said that the complaint would be referred to Department Chief Benjamin “Roz” Warren and the Board of Engineers, the fire department’s governing body, for recommendations.

Chief Warren said he had not seen the complaint Monday. Chief Dave Bogle of Mercer Engine Co. 3 and Chief Rob Toole of Princeton Hook and Ladder could not be reached for comment Monday.


Mayor Reed said that the Health Department acknowledged that the complaint was filed by an employee, which the mayor said was probably a firefighter. He said department officials would not reveal the employee’s identity.

Officials at the Health Department would not comment Monday. However, the letter to Mayor Reed said the complaint is under investigation. The complaint alleges that:

• The fire department lacks a written respiratory protection plan.

• Diesel exhaust from its trucks are directed into the firefighters’ turnout gear and that exiting systems designed to control track emissions are not effective.

• Hazard materials response and confined space procedures are not in compliance with a written emergency response plan.

• There is no written protective clothing or equipment procedure or written plan for their cleaning.

• The department lacks documentation of training and drills.

• There is no written physical fitness evaluation plan.

• Officers hold positions with little or no training.

• There is no written plan to deal with diseases carried in the blood.

• There is no written plan to deal with injuries or accidents.

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