While the obvious response may seem to have all fire truck operators obtain commercial driver's licenses, Terry said that can be problematic for the fire departments and truck operators for a number of reasons.
For one, the cost of obtaining the license is about $500, Terry said, and the training involved is nearly six hours. On top of that, the license has to be renewed periodically, and could be subject to price hikes.
Terry also said the commercial driver's license can be instantly lost in the event that an operator who has the license gets arrested on DWI charges.
"The other thing that I don't know, for us, with the number of apparatus operators in the state, for all of them to all of a sudden get them, it would totally overtax the system that's in place at the DMV," said Terry.
At the same time, in order to always have a certified commercial driver's licensed fire truck operator driving the trucks to and from an emergency, there would need to be volunteers who made themselves available for 24 hours at a time. Currently, Terry said he thinks about half the time the trucks are operated by someone who has a commercial driver's license.
At the March meeting of the Albany County Legislature, Zeilman will introduce a resolution that seeks the advice and counsel and aide of the Albany County District Attorney's Office, the County Attorney's Office and the County Sheriff's Department in issues that arise as a result of this law.
"In my view, it definitely jeopardizes the men and women in the fire service," said Zeilman. "They have to worry about being ticketed. Can they drive, can't they drive?"
Zeilman said he hopes not only to have his resolution passed, but to create awareness around the issue and to have it be a main priority during this legislative session in the New York State Legislature.""