Witherspoon Street firehouse nearing completion

Princeton Packet
24 July, 1992

Witherspoon Street firehouse nearing completion

As workers put the finishing touches on the newest Princeton firehouse, lawyers for the two towns are finalizing an agreement to regionalize the fire department.

The Princeton Fire Department serves both the borough and township, draws members form both towns and gets funding from both governments.

But technically the department is managed and supervised by the borough only.

With the construction in the township of the Witherspoon Street facility, township and borough officials need to work out details on the sale of the borough’s Chambers Street building.

And as one of the three fire companies prepares to move into the township, Princeton officials said it is time to alter the department’s operating agreement.

“The agreement is to make the fire department a bona fide joint fire company,” said Princeton Town-ship Mayor Richard Woodbridge, himself a member of the all-volunteer crew.

“At this point it is a borough fire company,” he said.

The township and borough share a joint fire commission, along with 12 other joint agencies, committees end boards that provide services that include health, planning, civil rights, recreation and the public library.

The township funds two-thirds of the fire department’s yearly budget, but it is still considered a borough agency.

“It made sense in the old days when all three fire companies were in the borough,” Mayor Woodbridge said. “You could have the borough engineer oversee maintenance of all three. But now that one of them is making its way into the township, it really makes the case that fire should be a joint service, like recreation.”

Borough and township officials plan to meet Tuesday in special session to discuss the joint agreement and the details of the sale of the Chambers Street building.

The two towns need to agree on a number of things, including a paid appraisal of the property and the hiring of a marketing agency for the sale, Borough Administrator Thomas Shannon said Thursday.

“A lot of miscellaneous things have to get worked out,” he said.

Meanwhile, work on the long-delayed Witherspoon Street firehouse is progressing toward a possible Sept. 1 opening.

“We are about 94, 95 percent complete,” Mr. Shannon said. “We are very close.”

Designers have included two meeting rooms and a number of offices in the building.

Behind the large garage bays are rest rooms, showers and a high-tech dryer for fire hoses.

A number of offices, training rooms and other areas are built into the second floor behind the large garage.

“A lot of firemen are going to more and more training programs and you need people administratively to keep track of all of that,” Mr. Shannon said.

Fire departments also need room to handle “more and more administrative matters,” he said.

“You’ve got a lot of these things going on and you’ve got to do that somewhere. It makes more sense that that stuff happens here,” Mr. Shannon said during a recent tour of the firehouse.

Meeting rooms are on the side of the building closest to the Princeton Township municipal offices.

The ground-floor room features a fireplace and access to a kitchen area for social functions and fund-raising events.

Above that is a meeting room for business gatherings and possibly community meetings, Mr. Shannon said.

Also on the second floor is a control room with its trapezoidal windows jutting out toward. Witherspoon Street.

From there firefighters will eventually be able to control a traffic signal the township plans to install at the intersection of Witherspoon Street and Valley Road.

“The inside of the building is every bit as well done as the outside,” Mayor Woodbridge said.

Designers used materials “that weren’t the most expensive but not the cheapest either, so it looks really nice,” he said.

“We could have an. award-winning building on our hands, It really looks that nice and it does what we want it to do,” Mayor Woodbridge said.

Staff photo by Mark Czajkowski

Clockwise from lower left: A carpenter at work in the firehouse’s second-floor meeting room Thursday morning; the second-floor control room; a front corner of the building with the control room’s trapezoidal windows.

Leave a Reply