Whenever volunteer fire departments need a new piece of emergency equipment, you have to hand it to them for tenacity and perseverance.
Mayors, MHAs, municipal and provincial administrations come and go.
But fire departments, and especially their chiefs, usually prevail until they get the tools they need to do the job they have to do.
If there is one thing politicians learn quickly about fire chiefs, it is once they identify a need for their departments, they do not take no for an answer, and they are not going away.
Jerome Kennedy learned this early in his political career - alluding to it during last fall's Carbonear firefighter's ball when he recalled it was not long after he was elected he first learned about the need for new equipment from former fire chief Ron Garland.
While administrations may not necessarily have to deal with the same chief, they have also learned that each successive fire department leader can be as persistent and tenacious as his/her predecessor.
The new aerial ladder truck that rolled into Carbonear Jan. 15 is a tangible and classic example of what happens when such persistence prevails.
It also pays off in the end.
In welcoming the new vehicle to the fleet, current fire chief Ed Kavanagh told The Compass: "It was long overdue, but it was worth the wait."
While Kavanagh happened to be wearing the fire chief's hat when they received the good news last August the funding had finally been approved for the equipment, he was quick to credit five of his predecessors. They also saw the need, never lost sight of their goal, kept up the pressure and never lost hope that one day their dream would come true. Former fire chiefs Randy Butt, Fred Earle, Scott Thomas, Tom Crawford and Ron Garland should also take a well-deserved bow for the new truck.
It is interesting to note that of the $2.8 million the provincial government approved last year for new emergency vehicles under its Fire Protection Infrastructure Program, some $670,000 went to Carbonear for the new aerial ladder truck.
This at a time when the demand for and competition among municipalities for firefighting equipment around the province is fierce.
Or as Mayor Sam Slade succinctly put it: "Everybody wants a new fire truck."
Recognizing Jerome Kennedy's clout around the cabinet table, Slade told The Compass, "there is no way in the world we would have gotten it without the minister's help."
While nobody doubts the MHA's role in securing the funding, when asked for his take on the event, instead of taking all the credit, Kennedy described it as "a sign of the fire department's commitment and recognition of their work."
This latest acquisition has also been described as a regional asset.
Besides being able to reach the eight floor of the Carbonear Hospital, the region's tallest building, the aerial ladder will also be used to reach out to neighbouring towns whenever their fire department's are in need of the kind of assistance the ladder can provide.
So while it is based in Carbonear, the device will become an asset to the entire region.
Whether it is an historic church in Heart's Content or a building in Bay Roberts that may be in need of help, they can rest assured, the aerial ladder truck will be less than an hour away.
Local fire departments gain recognition for the equipment and expertise they have to offer.
Neighbouring Harbour Grace, for example, is well-known for its expertise in high angle, cold-water rescue and vehicle extrication - assets that have been used effectively well beyond the town's boundaries throughout the region.
Through their mutual aid programs, local fire departments appear to have good working relationships. And whenever you see a fire vehicle from one town at the scene of an emergency in another, you witness a good example of regional co-operation at its finest.
While nobody knows any better than volunteer firefighters the need for such expensive equipment, ironically, they also hope and pray they will never be called upon to use it in a real emergency.
For the rest of us, just knowing the equipment and expertise are there at the ready, just in case, should help us all get a better night's sleep.
— Bill Bowman, editor