Princeton U. helps firefighters breathe easier

June 16, 1994

Princeton Metro

Princeton U. helps firefighters breathe easier

By Peter Aseltine

Staff Writer

PRINCETON BOROUGH – Princeton University has donated $25,000 to the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department for the purchase of breathing equipment for firefighters.

Pam Hersh, the university’s director of community and state affairs, presented a check to Fire Chief Benjamin Warren at Tuesday’s borough council meeting. She said the check came with congratulations from university President Harold Shapiro.

“I see you early in the morning on many occasions, fighting fires,” Hersh said to the chief and several other firefighters who were there. “This is for all that you have done.”

About $11,000 of the gift will be used to buy six self-contained breathing apparatuses, and the remaining $5,000 will pay for six one-hour air tanks.

Warren said the purchases will start a campaign to replace the fire department’s aging breathing equipment.

The fire department has more than 40 air tanks now, but some of them will have to be taken out of service soon. The state Department of Transportation requires that the air tanks be replaced every 15 years. Rubber portions of breathing masks and connector hoses also deteriorate with time.

THE DEPARTMENT currently has only half-hour tanks – no one-hour tanks. No money for breathing equipment was allocated in the fire department’s budget for this year because other needs were judged to be more immediate.

Hersh said the gift was prompted in part, by the university’s awareness that the borough and township are hard-pressed to keep up with the expenses of the volunteer department. Earlier Tuesday night, the borough council and the township committee met to discuss a 20-year schedule for replacing the fire department’s trucks.

“There also was simply knowing the fire department responds to many on-campus situations, small as they are, that require the firefighters to come in and serve the tax-exempt segment of our properties,” Hersh said.

There were several dormitory fires on campus during the past school year, but each was put out before it spread beyond a single room. There were no serious injuries.
The bulk of the university’s properties are tax-exempt as educational buildings, but the university makes an annual donation of $50,000 to the borough and gives another $47,000 as a voluntary payment in connection with McCarter Theatre, which also is tax-exempt.

In addition, the university keeps a large number of properties — mostly housing for professors and graduate students — on the tax rolls in the borough and township, even though the properties probably qualify for tax-exempt status.

The university has periodically made additional donations to the fire department, but none had been made in more than five years.

“We hadn’t made a donation since 1988, and I thought it was time,” Hersh said.

Hersh said the gift also recognizes the fact that Princeton Engine Co; No. 1, one of three companies in the department, will celebrate its bicentennial this year. The whole department has about 150 members.

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