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Living in Hopewell Borough comes with its downtown perks of being walkably close to shops, restaurants, parks, trails, galleries and a theater. Living in Hopewell also comes with some noise — namely the fire siren. More times than I have cared to count, I have read on social media threads or heard complaints in person about the volume and frequency of the noise.

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IMG_9721There have been rumors that the siren is “historic” but the real reason for the siren is purely functional. It calls the all-volunteer firefighters to the firehouse located at 4 Columbia Ave. While the firefighters carry pagers to let them know about an emergency call, for any given call, at least two or more firefighters find out about an emergency due to hearing the siren.

“Because we live in a Valley, there is not the best coverage,” said Fire Chief Joe Novak, who has been with the Hopewell Fire Department since high school and whose family has been a part of it for longer than that. “Sometimes, even in the station, our pager doesn’t go off.”

And it isn’t just about coverage. “If I’m in the shower or mowing the lawn, I won’t hear my pager,” one volunteer firefighter said.

Chief Novak shared that he thinks that technology will eventually catch up to allow for reliable coverage in Hopewell Valley. In the meantime, the necessity for firefighters to respond to a call quickly is imperative, with often only 19 minutes to total destruction in new construction, and with 75% of the area without fire hydrants. With the current technology and the siren, the fire truck is on the road in 4-5 minutes.

If you want to help out, the Hopewell Fire Department is always looking for volunteers.

“People think they will have to go out to fires but there’s more that can be done — like administrative functions, event planners, fundraisers,” said Chief Novak, “and daytime is especially hard to cover.” See this link for membership information.

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, and a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, photographing mushrooms, and misguided adventures in random hobbies. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), serves on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, and holds the elected position as the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Municipal Chairwoman.

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