Plainsboro Fire Renovations
On November 18th, Plainsboro residents voted at a Special Capital meeting to approve expansions to the current Plainsboro fire station. Voting occurred from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, of the 41 registered Plainsboro voters that participated, 34 voted in favor and 7 against. The voters approved expansions up to the cost of $1.5 million, which will include an addition to the rear of the firehouse for utilities, bunk rooms, an upgraded day room and a renovation of the front entrance and sign of the fire station.
According to a document sent out by the Plainsboro Fire District, they have made various additions to the facilities and equipment since 1999, including “adding a boat and trailer, a rescue utility trainer and light plant to its fleet.” And, as explained by Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Plainsboro Fire District, Ted Wagner, these additions are part of the reason for the newly approved expansions. “All those utility items, some of them are outside the building because there’s no space, that’s why the purpose is to build additional area to try to get those inside the building. These changes would allow us to store the smaller vehicles in our three bay addition, and make a little room so you could walk around without tripping.”
Along with the renovations at the rear, the new plans include male and female bunk beds in two separate rooms. Wagner believes this addition will help with the safety and comfort of the firefighters, and subsequently increase the amount of volunteer commitment. “When there is some sort inclement weather coming in, like snowstorms or hurricanes, we encourage volunteers to stay in the building at night. Right now, they’re sleeping in sleeping bags or are propped up on chairs, so (in the future) they will be able to use the bunk beds,” Wagner said, adding that he hopes these changes will help volunteers want to stay at the fire station for longer.
Towards the goal of providing more comfort for volunteers, the plan will also upgrade the day area, where volunteers and workers can relax. “We’re taking the existing day room that currently has the kitchen table and the TV and we’re converting the majority of that space into the male and female bunk rooms, and then we’re going to bump out the back wall and make that into a new day room, which will have tables and the kitchens will be expanded and all that,” Wagner said.
He added on the need for an expanded kitchen. “Our kitchen is very small right now, and when we have fire company meetings, we usually have refreshments after the meeting and a lot of very time there’s very limited counter space. By enlarging that, we’re making it a little user-friendly for the volunteers.”
Lastly, the plan involves upgrading the sign outside the fire station and the front entrance. “We’re looking to upgrade the front of the building, making the front look a little more aesthetic. Also, we have a sign right now where you have to go out and put the letters on, so we’re looking to upgrade that into an electronic sign. We want it to be a little more user-friendly to come into the building,” Wagner said.
These changes required a vote due to the structure of the Plainsboro Fire Commission, which, unlike its West Windsor counterpart, does not have anything to do with running the fire department in town and is instead tasked with creating the annual fire budget. “Anything that would be a major/capital purchase or project needs voter approval. Last year, we had to seek voter approval to buy a firetruck and self-contained breathing apparatus. Even if this is in the budget, we can’t just go out and spend it, we need voter approval to authorize the expenditure of the funds,” Wagner said.
According to internal estimates from late 2016-early 2017, the estimated cost of the changes came to around $1.1 million, so the commission seeked for approval up to $1.5 million to accommodate for any unexpected changes in costs, needs, or plans. The commission raises money through a local fire tax that is paid by every homeowner and then budgeted by the commission. “Anything that would not be in the budget (for the changes) for this year will be from next year’s budget. We should be able to afford it, and there really is no impact on the taxes,” Wagner said.
Wagner believes that these changes will have a positive impact on the work of the volunteers and career firefighters. “As far as truck space, it will get the equipment outside inside. And, as for the kitchen and the new day area, it’ll just make it a little more comfortable. We’re trying to encourage volunteers to hang around the firehouse as much as possible, because then we get the trucks out quicker, but if you’re going to do that, you’re gonna spend a considerable amount of time there. You’re sitting watching TV, or music or doing some work,”
“I think in general, it’s just moving stuff around and making it a little more user-friendly for the volunteers and hopefully encourage them to remain in the building more and spend time there,” he adds.
Wanger concludes by thanking “the taxpayers that came out and supported this change. Hopefully, we will be able to get the project started early 2018 and have something complete by the end of the year.”
View Online Publication
View Print Publication