PRINCETON: New fire chief Kyle Rendall continues his family’s legacy of service

Kyle Rendall is due to be sworn in Jan. 2 as the next fire chief

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Kyle Rendall is due to be sworn in Jan. 2 as the next fire chief

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Kyle Rendall has been around the Princeton Fire Department since he was a kid, part of a family legacy that saw his father serve before him in a department that the younger Rendall will lead next year.
“Every day for me is completely different. I go in with no expectations for what it’s going to entail because at any moment, anything can happen,” he said Wednesday in an interview from the chief’s office in the firehouse on Witherspoon Street. “And that’s sort of fun.”
At 33, he is due to be sworn in Jan. 2 as the next fire chief, the public face of an all-volunteer department with deep roots in the community going back to the 18th century. He will replace Dan Tomlin, the chief for the past 10 years.
“Especially in a volunteer organization, you need to be somewhat cyclical in allowing people to move through the ranks,” Rendall said. “It’s good to get new ideas in there.”
Rendall grew up in Lawrenceville, went to Lawrence High School and then studied at the New Jersey Institute of Technology to become an architect. He has worked for 10 and a half years at KSS Architects, located in the same building connected to Conte’s Pizza, and is also a volunteer firefighter in Montgomery, where he and his wife live. He will continue to be a volunteer in that community.
Firefighting is ingrained in the Rendall family; his grandfather, father and uncles paved the way for him.
“You basically get born into it, that’s how a lot of firefighters get started, it’s they have families that do it and you just sort of get intrigued by the lifestyle, the adventure,” he said.
At 16, he became a junior firefighter in Princeton — a department made up of three separate fire companies and about 40 active members. He said he would like to add 20 more volunteers to supplement a membership at a time when it is hard to find volunteers.
“I feel like I’m in the position now where I’ve got a lot of great support from the membership,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of ideas toward recruitment for the department, which is one thing that we need to do to move this forward as an all-volunteer department.”
Asked about the possibility of Princeton ever having a paid fire department, he said, “In the very distant future, if the town does continue to develop to the extent that it has been, we will have to talk to the town about what the options are. But at this moment, we’re definitely not there yet.”