Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 49
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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Equipment Consolidation Improves Fire Department’s Response Time to Calls

Ellen Gilbert

Annual reports from Fire Commissioner Edward J. Greenblat and Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC) Executive Director Susan Hoskins highlighted Monday’s Township Committee meeting.

The date for the joint Borough-Township annual reorganization meeting was set for Sunday, January 2, at noon.

With the consolidation of first-line-of-response apparatus to a single station (Number Three), Mr. Greenblat described this year as a “transitional” one for the Princeton Fire Department. The move, he said, “maximizes the potential for a full-crew response.”

In the past, firefighters went to individual stations, an arrangement that was, according to Mr. Greenblat, “sometimes successful, sometimes not.” The idea for centralizing responses came from Fire Department Chief Daniel Tomalin. As a result, Mr. Greenblat reported, the department’s average response time has dropped to less than the ten-minute standard used to gauge the success of comparable fire departments. Having less equipment on the road also eliminates noise and congestion, he added.

Training and recruitment, which had been the purview of each individual station, has also been centralized and is receiving “a large effort,” according to Mr. Greenblat. There is room for improvement, he noted, in the logistics of how to include Princeton University Fire Department Associates in responding to calls. The Princeton Fire Department itself responds to between seven and eight hundred calls annually.

Committeeman Lance Liverman wondered if the other two fire stations have potential as meeting sites for non-profit organizations. Mr. Tomalin responded by saying that the stations belonged to the Borough and were still used by the Fire Department.

Ms. Hoskins noted that she had submitted her annual report earlier this summer, and that she would use this opportunity to bring the Committee up to date on PSRC activities. She expressed the center’s appreciation for the recent renovation of the Suzanne Patterson building where it is headquartered. “A new coat of paint makes a big difference,” she observed. “The new floor is fabulous, and the sound panels make all the difference in the world.”

She also thanked the community partners that helped house the PSRC and enabled activities to continue when what was supposed to be a six-week renovation lasted three months.

A successful fund-raiser, a fall conference on retirement, and Evergreen Forum’s celebration of its tenth anniversary as a life-long learning program were among PSRC’s other recent successes.

“We’re the ‘go-to’ place, building community in everything we do,” said Ms. Hoskins. “We’re here for you when realize you need us.” Looking ahead, she said that the PSRC will work on creating more community partnerships, coping with funding changes at all levels, and adapting to “changing needs in changing times.”

In response to Mr. Liverman’s question about whether the public housing complex at Redding Circle is included in PSRC outreach, Ms. Hoskins noted that while some social service staff are there “from time to time,” there is no regular, on-site presence. Acknowledging that this is a community that includes “very vulnerable adults,” she said that she would be happy to follow up on this concern.

In other reports, Committeewoman Sue Nemeth said that she had attended one “very productive meeting” between Recreation Department representatives and members of the ad hoc committee that has prepared an alternative design for the Community Park Pool complex. A second meeting also took place and Ms. Nemeth described the two groups as “making progress, comparing notes, and reviewing options for a much better, less expensive design.”

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