Fire Away!

Sometimes even the best of causes take forever.

Take the Ulster County fire training center. First raised by volunteer fire forces as a priority around the time man went to the moon and the original Woodstock put an obscure art colony beneath Overlook Mountain on the wrong map, two generation of fire fighters will see their hopes and dreams realized when the county legislature meets in regular session on June 18.

Having previously authorized more than $4.5 million in bonding for construction of a fire training center off Ulster Landing Road in the town of Ulster, legislators are now prepared to approve an additional $1.5 million after bids came in some 25 percent over estimates in April.

Richly deserved paeons of praise will be sung to our fire fighter forces in session even as everyone in the room will understand that this was as much about public safety priorities too long delayed as politics, which is always imminent. Which is to say, all but two of 23 legislators (Rich Gerentine of Marlborough and Joe Maloney of Saugerties) will stand for reelection in November and none wants angry fire fighters and their families sounding alarms in any of the 50 volunteer firehouses they collectively represent outside the city of Kingston.

This sudden resolve did not happen, well, suddenly. Privately and respectfully, I’m told, volunteer fire fighters’ button-holed their respective county legislators over the last few months to pointedly advise that they wanted a fire training center approved this year or there would be consequences. As they used to say during the Nixon administration, when you have them by the (not all legislators are so endowed; it only seems that way) their hearts and minds will follow.

Foot-dragging county government has finally done right by its largest body of volunteers. Fire fighters will be afforded the facilities to properly train their people within easy reach of firehouses to better protect lives and property. And county legislators, most of whom have served less than ten years and therefore can’t be blamed for these unconscionable delays, can go door to door this fall with the good news.

I love a happy ending.

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