Fire company protests plan to purchase $420,000 truck

January 24, 1968 (~estimated)

Fire company protests plan to purchase $420,000 truck

By Laurie Lynn Strasser

Staff Writer

One of Princeton’s three fire companies is protesting plans by Prince-ton Borough and Township to purchase a $420,000 telesquirt truck.

“Some of us are taxpayers as well as firemen,” Kevin Delaney, president of Engine Company No. I. told Borough Council Tuesday night. “It’s an awful large expense for us to go to.”

The council passed an ordinance in November to appropriate $165,200 for the truck, and the Township Committee passed a parallel ordinance in December for up to $280,000.

“Our company is totally opposed to this major expenditure,” states a Jan. 16 letter from Engine Company No. 1, received by both council and committee.

Two officers from Engine Company No. 3 also voted against the telesquirt, said member Ray Wadsworth, a borough councilman.

A telesquirt truck handles a high volume of water, with a remote controlled boom to douse fires from above.

Engine Company No. 1 argued that Princeton’s fleet already provides about twice the required gallons per minute. Since the squirt truck is not a first-on-the-scene type vehicle, there would be time to borrow one from another community, it stated. It added that the money could be better spent on other equipment.

The letter cited several other reasons for objecting to the telesquirt, including:

• The cost to taxpayers and senior citizens on fixed incomes.

• New laws will drive the price of the truck even higher.

• The truck would emit a lot of water, damaging fire scenes more, and diminishing the supply for other engines.

• The truck’s maneuverability would be limited on Princeton’s narrow streets.

The purchase was recommended by the firefighters’ Board of Engineers, which is comprised of officers from each of Princeton’s three fire companies, as well as committee and council liaisons.

“The Board of Engineers feels it’s a needed piece of equipment,” Princeton Fire Chief Raymond Bian-co said Thursday. A 1985 study of the department, conducted by Thomas Shand, recommended a telesquirt, he said.

“Based on the fact that No. 1 had to write this letter, obviously there’s a lack of communication somewhere,” Councilman Mark Freda said. “The company officers are supposed to represent the sentiments of their companies to the board.”

The board appointed a subcommittee to address the concerns raised in the letter at the Board of Engineers meeting Wednesday night, Chief Bianco said. The subcommittee will address the discrepancy between the board’s opinion and that of some firefighters it represents, he said.

After the council discussed the letter on Tuesday, Assistant Fire Chief Robert Toole, a member of Co. No. 2, said two months should be enough time for such a study.

The board should take into account not just replacing equipment, but whether all the equipment is necessary to meet recommended standards, Mayor Marvin Reed said.

The size of water pipes supplying the trucks also should be considered, Mr. Wadsworth said.

Township Committee members have received copies of Engine Company No. 1 ‘s letter but have no plans to discuss it at their meeting Monday, Committeewoman Sharon Bilanin said.

When the committee authorized the expenditure in December, it refused to spend any money until it settled disputes with the borough over com-mon ownership and cost sharing of the apparatus.

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