Brian Doel, assistant chief of the Princeton Junction Volunteer Fire Company, has always wanted to be a firefighter.

West Windsor Gives Back, the community group founded last year by Mayor Hemant Marathe, will once again be holding a mayor’s ball later this year in addition to raising funds for a community organization.

Last year WWGB celebrated the 50th anniversary of the West Windsor Police Department, and this year it will be working to benefit the Princeton Junction Volunteer Fire Company.

The WWP News, in conjunction with WWGB, will be running articles throughout this year spotlighting the fire department and the men and women who are involved with it.

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A day in the life of a firefighter is never boring. They encounter unusual circumstances every day. From putting out a house fire to performing a water rescue to cleaning up a chemical spill, these volunteers have to be prepared for almost anything.

Brian Doel, assistant chief of the Princeton Junction Volunteer Fire Company, tells of the time late last year when an SUV wound up on top of a sedan on Washington Road.

“There was a person trapped inside the sedan, and we needed to get them out,” he says. “To do this safely, for both the occupants and the firemen, we needed to stabilize the vehicle first.”

The fire department has rescue struts designed for use in just this type of situation, but they are inadequate for today’s needs, where a scenario might include stabilizing a large truck of 80,000 pounds partially turned over under a high overpass on Route 1.

For someone stuck in a small car with the side of that truck over their head, seconds count before the vehicles can be stabilized enough for extraction to begin.

When the PJVFC learned they were the 2019 recipient of West Windsor Gives Back’s fundraising campaign, they knew just what they’d use the money for: Paratech Struts, a vehicle stabilization kit that can be customized to handle a variety of situations.

This kit can handle upwards of 80,000 pounds. The struts come in multiple lengths between two and 10 feet and can be stacked for longer length. There are various bases, hinges and accessories that can work together.

By purchasing this versatile kit, they will be able to use it today and buy new pieces for future needs. To raise money for this important equipment, West Windsor Gives Back will be holding events throughout the year, including the Dive into Summer pool party at WaterWorks on Wednesday, June 19 (from 5-8 p.m.) and the mayor’s ball on Nov. 2.

For Doel, becoming a firefighter has been a dream come true. He was born in London and grew up in a small village before moving to the city of Nottingham to attend the university there. The big city only had professional firefighters, so he had to wait until he came to West Windsor to volunteer.

“I was always interested in joining a fire company when I was growing up in the UK,” Doel says. “When I moved to West Windsor, I happened to see a request for members. I reached out and Tony Mangone (PJ deputy fire chief) explained what was expected and I signed right up. I have been a member for nearly 13 years now.”

For his day job, Doel heads up a supply chain department in a pharmaceutical company, which provides potentially lifesaving medications to patients in clinical trials.

Although Doel is involved and trained in all of the many duties that volunteer firefighters are responsible for, he specializes in vehicle extraction and water rescue, including swift water training.

He also does urban search and rescue, trench rescue and rope rescue for Middlesex County. When the new stabilization struts are purchased, Doel says that he looks forward to the additional training that will be offered by the manufacturer.

Some of his stories are uplifting, like the time two women were trapped in a Fiat sedan that hit a delivery truck on Princeton-Hightstown Road. He saw the police, fire department and EMS come together to accomplish the rescue.

Others are funny, like when he arrived in another town and their fire department had set up a tower ladder for a fire hose—then proceeded to get the water going in the wrong direction and he found himself rolling around in the spray. But most are heartwarming, like teh time an elderly person’s fire alarm went off and he was able to solve the problem and make them feel secure just by changing the battery.

When not fighting fires or rescuing people from vehicles, Doel enjoys traveling with his wife Vikki, whose grandfather fought fires during the London Blitz in World War II. He is an animal lover who wanted to be a veterinarian when he was a boy, and he loves to spend time with his three dogs, Monty, Mya and Sparky. He is also an avid hunter and sports shooter.

Doel says that he encourages everyone in the community to volunteer with the fire company, whether as a firefighter, fire police or in an associate position running events, assisting in managing the firehouse, or fundraising. Junior members can join as young as 16 years old.

“The firehouse is a community of people with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences and this is what makes us strong,” he said.

To volunteer for the Princeton Junction Fire Company, contact pjfd44@gmail.com, call (609) 799-2112.

Look for more information on pjfd.com or contact on Facebook at facebook.com/pjfd44. For more information on this year’s events or to donate to the Princeton Junction Volunteer Fire Company, email wwgivesback@gmail.com.