Princeton’s New Fire Chief Plans To Push Firehouse Construction

21 December, 1988

Princeton’s New Fire Chief Plans To Push Firehouse Construction

Myrna K. Bearse

The Princeton Fire Department has elected Mark Freda, 34. as fire chief for next year — a year that should see the proposed now firehouse in the Township move from plan to reality.

Mr. Freda — who will be sworn in on New Year’s Day both as fire chief and as Borough councilman — says he will “push the firehouse like crazy.”

Admitting that his timetable is “easily half of everyone else’s,” the 14-year veteran of the Fire Department said he would like to see construction of the firehouse begin this summer. The facility will be located on the parking lot next to the Valley Road building.

Letters have already been sent to more than 50 architects. Some had expressed interest in the project during its lengthy planning stage. Others were contacted because they had done firehouse work in the past.

Mr. Freda hopes that the architect will be selected by February 8, and he feels it will then take about four months for the plans to be completed. These plans would then have to be approved by the recently formed Joint Committee on Firehouse Relocation.

“Once the plans have been approved by the committee,” said Mr. Freda, “the Borough will probably run the program, since the Fire Department is technically a Borough department. The Borough administrator (Mark Gordon) and the Fire Department will be the lead people on the firehouse.”

Mr. Freda foresees the need for a $2 million bond appropriation by the Borough and Township to finance construction of the firehouse. His goal is to have the facility completed by the summer of 1990. The proposed new fire-house was described by Mr. Freda as being “not the Taj Mahal of firehouses, but one that will serve the needs of the Department for at least 30 to 40 years.”

A report prepared by Short and Ford, Architects, about eight months ago provides an outline of what the new facility might contain. The report was included in the recent letter sent to architects.

The firehouse would be 11,590 square feet. Of this, the largest amount of space would be for the engine room, at 4,300 square feet. Also in-eluded would be a meeting room, general assembly room, conference room. business office, bunk room, exercise room, storage, hose drying tower, radio room, beverage area, and kitchen.

The engine room should be able to hold two large trucks ai well as two pumper trucks There would be a six-foot minimum clearance between trucks. The report stated that pull-through entry-exit with doors on both ends of the truck bays would be preferred.

The 1,000-foot meeting room, which could accommodate up to 50, would be teed only by the fire company. However, a 1,500-square-foot general assembly room, which could hold up to 150, would be adaptable for banquets, dances, and other social functions. The report said this room should be for multi-purpose community use.

The 400-square-foot bunk rom would contain separate facilities for men and women. The 12 bunks would be divided eight for men and Jour for women. This room would be used for occasional sleep-in and snow duty.

The restrooms and showers will also be separate for men and women, with 60 percent of the space for men and 40 percent for women. During the next year, Mr. Freda and others will address the question of what to do with The Borough-owned Chambers Street firehouse after the company moves to its new facility. “The general thought has been to sell it and use the money toward the new firehouse,” he said. -But, in the long term, is selling the best thing to do? Maybe it should be leased for a number of years, and the rent money used to pay the bond.”

He would like to see leasing considered as an option because he feels the Borough might need to make use of the building at some later date —possibly for offices or community use.

Over his next year as Fire Chief, Mr. Freda hopes to increase the number of volunteer firefighters. He wants to find ways to encourage more people fi join, as well as to encourage present members to become more involved.

The deputy chief for 1989 will be Eric W. March. Patrick Root was elected assistant chief.

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