Committee readies study of Princeton’s fire needs

10 July, 1984

Committee readies study of Princeton’s fire needs

by Maria LoBiondo
Staff Writer

A growing local population coupled with the prospect of fewer volunteer firefighters has area officials looking to hedge future problems.

Princeton Borough Council this year budgeted a $15,000 survey of fire fighting needs in both the borough and the township, due to go into action in the next six weeks, according to Councilman Richard Woodbridge.

Two parties. Public Technology, Inc of Washington. DC., and Thomas W Shand of Media, Pa., are being considered for the survey. The Fire Committee will meet July 23 to “fine tune” one of the proposals before recommending u to council, Mr. Woodbndge said.

“Doing the study is an outgrowth of concern to make sure we’re prepared for the 21st century , he explained

The borough’s Master Plan doesn’t cover possible fire needs, he added.

The borough, less than two square miles in area, lies in the heart of the township, which covers 16.6 square miles. All three fire stations servicing both municipalities are located in the borough.

One of the objectives of the study will be trying to maintain a volunteer company rather than a paid one, recruiting interested persons in a “pricey” community. Mr. Woodbridge said.

“There’s a lot of young people who went to high school here but can’t find housing here now,” he said. A plectron system alerts Princeton firefighters living and working within a five to 10 mile radius of their stations when there’s a fire call.

All three companies have 50 firefighters on their rolls currently, the maximum allowed by fire statutes for a volunteer company, according to Peter Hodge, second assistant chief of the fire department.

However, depending on the lime of day, an average of 26 to 34 firefighters respond to calls for the Hook and Ladder Co., Mr Hodge said. He did not know the average response numbers for the area’s other two stations.

A proposed housing plan currently in the talking stages among borough officials includes setting aside units for public service workers, which may aid the situation for firefighters, according to Mr Woodbridge.

Local firefighters fought 10 general alarm fires in 1983 — five in the borough and five in the township, Mr. Hodge said. All apparatus and firefighters are required to respond to this type of call.

Additionally, the department answered 249 other calls, he said. The three fire companies servicing the borough and the township responded individually to these smaller fires, such as in cars or dumpsters, depending on their location.

This total included 34 alarm malfunction calls and three intentional false alarms called to the Hook and Ladder station alone, added Mr Hodge, chief of that company.

The total represents a higher number of calls from the previous year, Mr. Hodge said, but could not give a percentage increase.

The planned fire survey also will analyze the location of the three regional fire stations and the suitability of apparatus, and examine the internal structure of the fire department.

Changing traffic patterns and population shifts may mean changing the location of the three fire stations now in service. Vehicles from the Mercer Station on Chambers Street particularly have problems now getting in and out, Mr. Woodbridge said.

The area’s other two station are located on Chestnut and Harrison streets.

The study will take at least six months to complete, Mr Woodbridge estimated.

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