16 September 1983
Pike backs study of fire protection
by Martha T. Moore
A study of fire protection in Princeton is “gradually becoming an idea whose time has come,” said township Mayor Winthrop S. Pike. The Princeton Fire Commission Tuesday asked the mayor to look further into the cost of such a study, which would consider the location of firehouses, equipment needs and residency requirements for firefighters.
“A study might also result in a formal agreement between the borough and township on fire department funding, the mayor said. The present informal arrangement is “outdated.” he said.
One consultant estimated the cost of a fire study at $12,000, but the mayor said he thought a comprehensive study could probably be done for less. The cost would be borne jointly by the borough and township, he said.
“It should be separately funded and not come out of the fire department budget,“ Mayor Pike told the fire commission.
Growth in the township and borough may necessitate the relocation of one of the fire companies. Mayor Pike said. New building in the west end of the township needs fire protection, while the downtown is becoming too crowded for firefighters to reach the firehouses quickly, he said.
Nor can fire company members always live near the firehouse, he added, as the cost of living in Princeton can be prohibitive.
“We’re already having trouble recruiting young people,” he said. “Youngish folks…often find it hard to be able to live inside of Princeton.”
The company presently has a six-mile limit within which firefighters must live. When an alarm is raised, “response time is of paramount importance,” Mayor Pike said. “It’s often decided whether you lose the house or you save it within the first five minutes.”
A fire study would look at both the location of the membership and the buildings to be protected to determine the best site for a new firehouse.
“You just can’t guess at these things,” the mayor said. The study “should provide for the normal growth of the town for the next 20 years.”
The mayor will bring more information on fire consultants and the cost of a study to the next fire commission meeting Oct. 18. Princeton may eventually have to turn to a paid fire department, he said, but noted that volunteer fire companies arc more committed, have more “esprit de corps,” and are cheaper.
“A volunteer lire department is one of the best deals in town,” he said.