Firemen Rejected

22 August, 1984

Firemen Rejected

On Car Policy. Princeton’s volunteer firemen, hoping to gain more control over the use of their official car, sought the help of Borough Council last week. The firemen found only one sympathetic soul on Council, Peter Bearse, and failed to gain the support of either if the two Councilmen who also serve in the fire department, Richard Woodbridge and Irv Urken.

The issue arose during a hearing for an ordinance on the use of fire apparatus. Mark Freda of the Fire Department Urged Council to amend the language of the proposed ordinance to enable the chief to drive the chief’s car to and from his residence, even if the chief happens to live outside of Princeton. The present chief, Clint Groover, lives in Lawrenceville.

Mr. Freda argued that the fire chief now has to drive to a station in town in order to get the official car, which serves as a form of mobile command post for the firemen. He pointed out that, while the current chief lives out of town, the department’s normal rotation will bring into the chief’s office several new men who live in town. Moreover, a recent ordinance now requires new firemen to live within six miles of town. On top of that, Mr. Freda said, the fire department is responsible for all maintenance on the car and has spent its own funds to outfit it with necessary equipment. “We’ve put a lot of work into this vehicle and we take a lot of responsibility.”

Council was largely unmoved. “This kind of thing tears me apart,” said Mr. Woodbridge, the fire commissioner. “But I think the Borough would be better off keeping this car in town after hours.”

“I’m torn, too,” said Mr. Urken. “I wear, a double hat but I think I agree with Councilman  Woodbridge’s language.”

Mr. Bearse saw it differently. “The volunteers are contributing a great deal of their time. Becoming chief is one of the rewards they can look forward to. I don’t see the point of restricting people who give so much to the community.” Mr. Bearse moved to amend the language of the proposed ordnance to reflect Mr. Freda’s concern. No one seconded it. The proposed ordinance was scheduled to be voted on at the September 14 meeting.

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