Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 19
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

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Aggressive Measures Needed to Maintain All-Volunteer Fire Dept.

Dilshanie Perera

A recent analysis of Princeton Fire Department operations undertaken by the consultants Kramer and Associates concludes that the municipal provision of volunteer fire services will need aggressive measures in order to maintain the department’s volunteer status. The report also recommends either a major expansion of Mercer Engine Company No. 3 on Witherspoon Street or creating a new facility that would be able to accommodate all three departments.

William M. Kramer was the project team leader for the report, with project team associates Rick Tripp, Lawrence T. Bennett, Randall W. Hanifen, and Cari A. Kramer also contributing.

The report urged thinking about fire services as part of an integrated approach toward emergency management among rescue and emergency medical services.

Acknowledging that the “time-honored tradition of the volunteer fire service in Princeton is threatened, as volunteers are becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and retain,” the report nonetheless pointed out that “the volunteer fire department can remain with some creative measures and self-imposed performance standards.”

Creating a “unified department to service the community” should take precedence over the retention of the specific identities of each of the town’s three fire companies, according to the analysis, though the individuality of the companies was deemed important. The unification of the three companies with respect to response was said to have “more advantages than drawbacks.”

The warning signals for determining when an all-volunteer department is no longer adequate are also detailed in the report. In such a case, the consultants advise that the on-duty workers become part-time “per diem” personnel.

The current equipment within the department was deemed adequate for serving the needs of the town, though the study suggests there is too much for all of it to be stored in one fire house.

A more complete account of the Princeton Fire Department operations analysis and its consequences for the shared department in the Borough and Township will be published in next week’s issue of Town Topics.

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