18 July, 1984
Fire Study Planned
by Myrna K. Bearse
By Borough. A $15,000 study to assess future fire-fighting needs in the Borough and Township is expected to begin before the end of the summer.
A major goal of the study, which toll be done either by Public Technology, Inc., of Washington, D.C., or Thomas W. Shand of Media, Pa., is to determine ways for Princeton to maintain a volunteer fire company.
“People would go kicking and screaming to a paid department,” said Borough Council President and Fire Commissioner Dick Woodbridge.
He said that a paid departmpart would have a very bad effect on people who want to volunteer, and that it also can be very expensive.
A volunteer, company, however, requires that volunteer firefighters be close by. And here lies a serious problem. Currently, 30 to 40 percent of Princeton’s firefighters five out of town. Sortie, who used to live in Princeton, have left because they have been priced out.
Two approaches have been suggested to deal with this: One, to be addressed by the upcoming study, will take the geographical location of firefighters into consideration when planning the location of future fire-stations.
The second involves the setting aside of housing units for firefighters and other public servants in the new moderate- income housing currently under discussion in the Borough.
The Fire Department has decided to study long-term fire fighting needs –a subject not covered in the Master Plan — at a time when significant development looms in the Township. The study will also address the needs of a changing downtown. Many of these changes will result from the Palmer Square redevelopment.
The Fire Department does deal with specific situations as they occur. For example, negotiations with Collins Development led to an agreement to install sprinkler systems in all interior residential units (those not accessible firetrucks).
Traffic Problems at No. 3. A prod to the current long-range thinking was the fact that fire trucks were having more and mere difficulty getting out of Fire Station No. 3, on Chambers Street. “There is no feeling that this station should be moved,” said Mr, Woodbridge, “but we should look at this and other questions periodically.”
The upcoming study will also include a review of fire equipment to make certain that it is up to date, as well as recommendations on what type of equipment should be ordered in the future. Possible ways to improve the line and staff structure of the Fire Department will also be analyzed. The study will take at least six months to complete.
Mr. Woodbridge also reports a growing feeling within the Fire Committee and Board of Engineers that the time has come to mandate smoke alarms and fire detectors in one- and two-family dwellings. These dwellings are not covered by state statute.
He recalls that the first fatal fire he went to as fire commissioner might have ended differently if there had been a smoke detector. “It was three years ago, on Leigh Avenue. An elderly man was overcome by smoke at the top of the stairs, and died. There was really very little fire damage in the house. A lot of fires, and fatalities, can be stopped with early detection.”
He will bring copies of smoke alarm and fire detector ordinances passed by other communities to the July 23 meeting of the Fire Committee, and will ask Borough Attorney Walter Bliss to draft an ordinance utilizing the best elements of these ordinances.
Mr. Woodbridge hopes to introduce the ordinance to Borough Council in the fall.