Volunteer firefighter pilot program to roll out

The University is rolling out a pilot program in which staff members will serve as volunteers with the Princeton Fire Department during their work shifts.

The one-year pilot program will include employees from the departments of facilities and public safety who already are trained as volunteer firefighters or who will receive training. The launch, which is expected later this spring, comes after more than a year of planning between University and local officials.

Members of the Princeton Borough Council on March 24 unanimously approved an ordinance to create associate memberships in the Princeton Fire Department, which serves residents and businesses in Princeton Borough and Princeton Township. The new associate memberships were created for University staff members.

Some 30 University employees have filed applications with the Office of the Princeton Borough Clerk for membership in the Princeton Fire Department, and the approval process is under way.

"One of the largest challenges for the Princeton Fire Department is that many of its members who are normally available during nights and weekends work at a job outside of Princeton during the day," said Roger Demareski, assistant vice president for facilities for plant, who has led the planning effort on the University side. "We proposed that one possible solution is to leverage the employees who work here at the University during the day as a way to augment the department."

University and local officials have been working to address numerous issues including training, insurance and logistics before finalizing details of the program. In addition to working with staff members in the departments of facilities and public safety, Demareski has collaborated with colleagues in the offices of community and regional affairs, human resources, risk management, environmental health and safety, and general counsel to address questions raised by employees interested in serving as volunteers.

If the pilot effort proves successful, the program ultimately would be opened to staff members across the University.

"It has been a huge effort," Demareski said. "Everyone has tried very hard to do their best to make this partnership between the University and the borough and township work."