Our new engine is a sterling cab, wieghs well over 26000 pounds I'm not sure of the excact wieght and has air brakes. At my day job I have to have CDLs to drive an f-750 that wieghs 28000 pounds and has air brakes. Tn law states any vehicle with air brakes or excedes the wieght limit of 26000 pounds you have to have a class b cdl to drive it. But there is an excemption for emergency vehicles that just doesnt make sense to me. does anyone elses dept. require cdls or anyone think they should. I think you should have to have cdls and have evoc tought by a state instructor before you can drive. Just my opinion.
10-19-08 I contacted The Tennessee DMV and they told me that a non cdl driver could drive an engine to an emergency under the excemtion law but would be breaking the law if they drove back to the station to get fuel or was just out driving. The dmv also if a non cdl driver was involved in an accident driving a large truck they would be driving a commercial vehicle without a license and could lose their license or have to do jail time. They also told me all that was needed was a class be cdl in Tn thats only 2 written test and a short on road driving test.

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Justin, I don't think in theory that many people would disagree with you. Here in PA we have EVOC and local certifications but no CDL requirement. If it was mandated I would expect that the local volunteer fire depts would have to pay for the cost of the CDL (Why should I if the only time I use it is as a chauffer?). There in lies the problem. If I am not interested in paying out more money to drive, the fire dept is already undercapitalized, and the state is trying to hold on to as many volunteers as it can, then this waiver or exemption for specific driving rules seems a logical interim choice.

Notice not once did I say it was a good idea. Do I think that some people that are driving these large vehicles shouldn’t be driving? Yes. How about we come up with a way for the states to license drivers to operate emergency vehicles? We could have a class or endorsement on the license indicating approval for some type of emergency vehicle based on weight or other requirements. Allow the State Fire Commissioner to develop the plan with some type of renewal at the time you go get your new license picture. At this point it becomes a little stickier but who knows? May be in my son’s lifetime…

Stay safe.
I see where your coming and can agree with you some what but for small volunteer departments to either have to find the funding for this or the need to find people with CDL's would be awful hard to do.
The one deptartment I was at in Iowa had to have a CDL before you were aloud to drive. The one I am at now in Ohio, they have said that our Driver Op class is all we need to know in order to drive. They state that it is equivellent to getting a CDL. From what I heard that is.
The FD exemption law exists in my state, but it is also very much open for interpretation. It states under emergency operations the operator is exempt. When you are training, doing fire prevention, pre-plans, even returning from a call, or going for fuel, are we still exempt?

When I took my CDL driving test, the DOT cop riding with me stated those were not emergency operations in his opinion. Everyone should have their town's attorney research the liability aspect of a driver operating a fire truck with only a passenger vehicle license before something happens? Yes absolutely...

Luckily, my department has a CDL requirement, (my original volunteer department had the same requirement for all engineers) And neither pay the extra cost associated with the commercial license. When you are involved in a motor-vehicle accident though, whether it is a fender bender or a fatal. The state police are going to ask for your license. Now if you are authorized under the state to operate a vehicle that weighs less than 26,000 GVW and only mechanical brakes, where is your documentation on knowledge and skill competency for accelrating, braking and manueverability on a vehicle such as a 68,000 lb Ladder or Tanker (OK Tender for you NIMS compliant people) with airbrakes when you drive a Hyundai on a daily basis?

At the least, the Training Officer who has his neck out on the line should understand the law, especially if you are doing your own in-house EVOC or driver training program.

Lawyers are going to line up for that impending lawsuit...
I'm not postive but I dont think Michigan requires CDL, I know our department does not and we had a neighboring department hit and kill a mom and kid responding to a call, and he had no CDL, yes he's in prison now but I know the CDL issue was never brought up.
Justin,

Texas law also states that a CDL isn't required in an emergency, just a Class C (pass. car type). Emergencies are a gray area to some. I believe the law exists to get the fire truck legally to a fire scene if only a non CDL person was available. After that have a CDL driver take it back to the station. As far as during training goes, a non CDL driver shouldn't drive unless he/she is legally training/testing for a CDL. The law is needed as long as it is interpreted right and used reasonably. TCSS
Thats my point. The law states for an "emergency" there is an exception but if legally running code 3 you go 10 to 15 mph over the speed limit but you cant drive it back to the station at regular speed? That makes no sense. I am the only one in my dept. with a cdl and had to give a rough class on air brakes. I didnt want to I am not a teacher at all but they was going to drive the truck anyways so I tried. I think there should be a special test and endorsment on your license for driving a fire truck. My license is a class A with a 52 and 57 restriction. 52 is restricting me from a tractor trailer and the 57 is for goverment vehicles only. Why couldnt they make a test so you could get a fire engine endorsment?
I understand that the trucks need to get to the scene but if you follow the law you can drive the truck to a scene lights and sirens 10 miles over the posted speed limit but cant drive it back to the station? I'm just afraid that when not if but when something happens the fire service is going to be in trouble.
True but it would be nice if you could take just a test for fire depts and not get a full blown cdl.
Justin,

FIre Engine, Milk Truck, Oil Delivery Truck, they are all similiar, bulk tank, with air brakes, so no need for a sepcial FD endorsement, I think we should just get the appropriate endorsements as a commercial guy does. BTW: that wasn't fair to put the burden on you to teach air brakes either...
In my state (SC) we have an emergency vehicle exemption as well. However, that exemption requires a CDL-like Class E or Class F license. Class E licenses are for straight-body emergency vehicles over 26,000 lbs, and Class F licenses are for articulating emergency vehicles over 26,000 lbs. That is the minimum standard for essentially all engine, truck, tanker, and heavy rescue drivers in the entire state.

Class A and B CDLs are available, and my department now requires them for promotion to Fire Apparatus Operator (FAO) rank. Relief Drivers and current FAOs are grandfathered to their Class E or F.

Ambulances, light rescues, staff vehicles, and QRVs under 26,000 lbs require only an operator's license with an EVOC, CEVO, or EVDT course.

As for how it "should be", many of the CDL requirements are intended for the over-the-road trucking industry and frankly are not pertinent to operating an emergency vehicle. For example, the alley dock skills test requirement is designed for tractor-trailers that back up to shipping and recieving loading docks. You will never be required to load cargo into the rear of your engine or tanker with a forklift while backed up to a loading dock, so this skill is a complete waste of time. Ditto for the walk-around inspection - it's designed for vehicles that commonly travel hundreds of thousands of miles per year. That amount of mileage is unheard of for most emergency vehicles. A basic daily check and a more in-depth weekly check is all that really matters for most fire apparatus. A non-critical fluid leak will cause a truck to fail the CDL pre-trip walk around, but every fire engine in the world has pump seals that leak at one time or another. We don't take the engine out of service for a 2-gallon per day pump packing leak, nor should we.

Here's another example: When my department purchased its first tractor drawn aerial (TDA) the chief contacted the state DMV and asked what type of driver's license our tillemen would need. The DMV's answer..."What's a tillerman?" We could never get them to advise what license was required. To be safe, the department requires the tillermen to maintain at least a Class F - the same as the driver/chauffer.

I'm all for specific emergency vehicle operations training, including specialty driver's license and EVOC/EVDT type training and a mandatory driving apprenticeship. My department does all of the above, but we exceed the standard.

Bottom line - 38 states require a CDL for any driver that operates a vehicle over 26,000 lbs GVW. That's pretty strong evidence that CDLs are a good idea. Then again, most of those 38 states don't require ANY training other than a CDL for fire apparatus drivers. I know some excellent over-the-road truckers that get too excited to be good emergency vehicle drivers and good apparatus drivers that couldn't back a truckload of refrigerators up to a loading dock if their lives depended on it.
We require aparatus drivers to obtain what Connecticut calls a "Q" endorsement which requires a documented training program and a DMV road test that essentially is the Class "B" CDL test. We teach to the CDL text. The "Q" endorsement is only good for fire apparatus. A considerable number of our personnel do have CDLs including several of us with Class "A" CDLs

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