Ballam: Ads on Fire Apparatus? Bring It On!

While controversial, an ad on an fire apparatus is a creative way to raise funds, especially for cash strapped volunteer fire departments.

Some may say communities just ought to bite the big bullet and cover the cost of apparatus, period. If this was paradise, that might be case. But not every community can pull that off. When community leaders are facing employee layoffs, years of infrastructure repair deferrals and tattered textbooks in the classrooms, they might welcome a lifeline of a few dollars coming in from the private sector that’s not squeezed from taxpayers.

For decades, mass transit has been a venue for advertising and it’s helped underwrite buses, subways, light rail and everything connect with public transportation. Why is it such a leap to include fire apparatus in that line up?

I do understand there might be issues about who is allowed to advertise. We might not want the local adult book store adorning our fire trucks with “hot and steamy” whatever. So, we’d have to develop regulations that govern content, size, colors and enforce them. Easier to say than to get done, but I am sure if there’s a will there’s a way. After all, we have to remember the mission of fire apparatus is safety and public service and balance that with the advertisers’ needs.

Without a doubt, ads on fire trucks is, and will be a controversial topic for years to come. There’s no right, or wrong, answer on this one and it will boil down to what your community will tolerate and how “desperate” the department is for funding.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t even be talking about this concept. But it’s not ideal and this is just one way to make it a little easier to endure.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.