Since 2009, the Princeton University Volunteer Fire Program has been serving both the University and surrounding community. The program consists of about 30 University staff members who volunteer during business hours to respond to emergencies with the Princeton Fire Department.
For the Princeton Fire Department, which is an all-volunteer organization, the program ensures support during the day with University volunteers when town volunteers may be unable to answer a call.
"The fact that the University has employees right here that can respond and are willing to respond is a tremendous help and asset to the town," said Scott Loh, University volunteer and University fire marshal.
The program is open to all University staff members with approval from supervisors, and firefighting experience is not required. The mandatory training is provided during business hours with pay. Many of the University volunteers also serve in their home communities' fire departments.
"When the University started the program, I heard about it and decided that, you know, since I'm already a volunteer firefighter it would be a great opportunity to not only service the town that I live in but also service the town that I work in," said Sandra Kearney, a University volunteer and a scheduler planner in the University's Site Protection-Administration office.
The town has purchased two new trucks for the fire department totaling $1.4 million. The University has contributed $500,000 to help offset the cost.
"When it comes to public safety and fire safety, the goals of the University and the community are completely in line, and this is an area where it's ripe for collaboration," Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert said. "And I'm proud that this has been an area where the University and the town have been working together, both in terms of putting together a volunteer force and the University helping with some of the major expenses to make sure that we have the equipment we need to outfit our volunteers."