Supply plan seen as solution to fire department conflict

June 13, 1994 (~estimated)

Supply plan seen as solution to fire department conflict

By Hank Kalet

Staff Writer

The resignation of the administrator responsible for day-to-day fire department operations in the Princetons may be avoided by a tightening of the department’s chain of command, Borough Administrator Tom Shannon said Monday.

Administrative aide Ted Cashel resigned his position earlier this month, effective July 1, because of tensions between himself and local firefighters.

Officials with the three fire companies said Monday that difficulties in distributing gear and other supplies created friction between Mr. Cashel and firefighters. Firefighters were blaming Mr. Cashel when they did not receive requested items, according to the chiefs.

“It’s easy to blame somebody when you’re not getting what you want,” said Dave Bogle, chief of Mercer Engine Co. 3, on Monday.

The tensions are expected to ease following changes made last week in the way that supplies are requested by the fire companies and distributed to firefighters. The changes, according to fire department officials, should strengthen the authority of fire company chiefs and remove Mr. Cashel from the line of fire.

Discussions between officials from the borough, the three Princeton fire companies and Mr. Cashel are continuing, said Mr. Shannon. These could result in Mr. Cashel’s remaining on the job at least through September.

Mr. Cashel said Monday he is “not ruling out” remaining with the department. A resolution could be reached this week, he said.

He is the only person to hold the administrative aide position since it was created in September 1992 to relieve the fire department chief of some of his paperwork responsibilities. He is responsible for payment of bills, maintenance of training and financial records and purchase of supplies.

He is paid an annual salary of $12,000 for the 20-hour per week position.

Mr. Cashel, who also serves part-time as the fire prevention official for the township, would not discuss the specific reasons for his resignation.

“There has been a tremendous amount of discussion as to whether things can be corrected, but I’m not at liberty to talk about it,” Mr. Cashel said. “We’re discussing possible solutions and I’m keeping my options open, but it’s strictly up to the chiefs’ discretion.”

The supply plan endorsed last week by the Princeton Board of Engineers, the body that administers the joint fire department. is expected to alleviate the problems. The board consists of the three company chiefs, three captains and six lieutenants.

Under the plan, the chiefs of the individual fire companies will be responsible for approving equipment requests, while company captains will be responsible for distributing the equipment once it arrives.

The administrative aide will be responsible for verifying orders and insuring that they are covered within the department’s budget.

Requests for items not covered in the fire budget will be referred to the departmental chief, who will have the final say. Benjamin “Roz” Warren, chief of Princeton Engine Co. 1, currently serves as departmental chief. The post rotates annually between the three companies.

“We wanted to make sure that someone with the authority would be making the decisions on whether or not equipment would be purchased,” said Rob Toole, chief of Princeton Hook and Ladder. “It gives more responsibility to the individual chiefs.”

Under previous procedures, supply requests were passed directly from firefighters to Mr. Cashel, which often left him in the uncomfortable position of having to mediate between the different fire companies, Mr. Toole said.

“Hopefully, this will streamline the process and take some pressure off Mr. Cashel,” Mr. Toole said. “There were too many people getting involved and it wasn’t clear where the direction was coming from.”

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