Firemen mull car purchase for chief

22 August, 1984 (date estimated)

Firemen mull car purchase for chief
by Maria LoBiondo, Staff Writer

Fuming local firefighters may give Princeton Borough back its chief’s car and hold a fund-raiser to buy their own in response to council’s decision limiting the current vehicle’s use to Princeton.

“That’s the feeling of the Board of Engineers now,” according to Fire Chief Clint Groover, a Lawrenceville resident, who may not drive his car home. “We’ll strip it of our equipment and give it back to the borough.”

“It’s no good to me with the conditions they (mayor and council) want to put on it,” he said in a telephone interview.

Firefighters want the car at an officer’s disposal at all times, for quick dispatch to fire scenes. The car, a former police vehicle, is used as a command post for operations in the borough and township.

With the proposed ordinance, fire officers living outside Princeton will have to drive to a station first. This would formalize a policy which has been practiced in the past.

“There’ve been times I’ve ridden by a fire going to the station to pick up the chief’s car, Chief Groover said.

The car is parked at the borough garage behind the Hook and Ladder Company now and used only for parades. The chief has refused to drive it until the use question is cleared up, he said.

Borough Council will vote on the ordinance in September. It amended a proposal the firefighters presented outlining the use of the car Aug. 14.

Allowed uses for the vehicle include emergency situations such as accidents and rescue calls, departmental meetings, investigations and inspections and drills.

A “sore spot” with the department is the maintenance of the vehicle. The 1977 Pontiac has clocked more than 185,000 miles.

The borough pays for insurance and fills the gas tank once a month. Firefighters have spent more than $1,500 for repairs and equipment such as new tires, transmission, alternator and painting of the vehicle, according to the chief.

Councilman Irvin Urken, also a Princeton Borough firefighter, said the chief’s car is a “piece of rolling stock” and should have the same restrictions as equipment in other borough departments.

“It’s a command post, not a chauffeur vehicle,” he said.

Firefighters agreed to take on repairs for the vehicle when they requested having a chiefs car, according to Mr. Urken.

The department has not had to raise funds in the past, even though other volunteer companies must, because the borough purchased and maintains fire equipment, buys insurance and pays for utilities out of residents’ tax dollars, he said.

Additionally, the borough allows the fire department to keep the proceeds when fire station buildings are rented out, and no rent is asked for each building’s use.

Mr. Urken said he did not know if the borough will purchase a new chief’s car soon. Also, he was not sure how council would react if firefighters decided to buy a car on their own.
The fire department’s Board of Engineers will meet Aug. 29 to decide its next move, according to Chief Groover.

Photo Caption: Fire Chief Clint Groover can’t take car home

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