Plainsboro, NJ affiliate builds up as community expands  

June 5 • 2023

Plainsboro fire fighters train new hires.

The citizens of Plainsboro Township, New Jersey, are safer – and the fire fighters that protect them are stronger – thanks to the tireless efforts of Plainsboro Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 4954 to bolster the ranks needed to answer the call. 

The small local affiliate represents 16 professional fire fighters that protect the fire district of Plainsboro, a township of 16,000 located just north of Trenton, New Jersey.  

Like many communities across central New Jersey, Plainsboro Township has for years struggled to provide robust fire protection as municipalities tightened budgets and volunteer departments have dwindled – leaving career departments to fill more shifts. Too often, pleas for more resources with township commissions have fallen on deaf ears.  

Five years ago, the leadership of Local 4954, with the support of the Professional Fire Fighters Association of New Jersey, began the hard work of strengthening their local union to give career fire fighters a stronger voice toward improving public safety in Plainsboro. The affiliate has, over time, persuaded the township commission to increase the number of fire fighters and invest in facility upgrades. 

“The local leaders in Plainsboro have really done the hard work to build support in their community and influence with their fire commissioners to begin giving what they need to improve safety,” said PFANJ 2nd Vice President David Hines. “They realized early that it’s not just about selling tee shirts. They really dug in, listened to advice, showed up at every public meeting to make their voices heard.” 

A stronger voice for Local 4954 has been extremely important for public safety as the Township of Plainsboro has grown in recent years, with new housing, research facilities, and a 355-bed hospital. 

Local 4954 President Chad Reed said township commissioners have started listening to the needs of the Local, not just by adding new hires but also by investing $1 million in much-needed fire station renovations. 

“We are making progress and building up our capacity to protect Plainsboro Township, but we cannot pause our efforts,” said Reed. 

In April, Plainsboro crossed a milestone with the hiring of its first fire chief, Matt Collins, a member of Local 4954. “The Plainsboro affiliate is showing a strong example for what a small local, backed by the IAFF, can accomplish,” said IAFF 1st District Vice President James Slevin. “Building up a strong local affiliate does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to convince local officials to listen and invest in public safety.” 

Local 4954 is currently applying for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Safety Response (SAFER) grant, which would allow the township to hire additional fire fighters.