Law's effects reach beyond fire truck drivers

What the 2005 state law does not do, Heider said, is create a problem for police officers operating vehicles without commercial driver's licenses.

Still, fire departments across the state are trying to come up with a way to comply with the law as best they can, without forcing all operators to get their commercial driver's licenses.

Terry said at Fuller Road, one method they are using is to remain "in service" until returning back to the fire department from an emergency.

Heider said the fire departments should not take measures to avoid obtaining a commercial driver's license, and should work to come up with ways to have all their operators obtain them instead.

"I think at the end of the day, just for everybody's administrative sake, it probably would be beneficial if they all had CDLs," he said. "The fact that you have a CDL doesn't make you a safer driver, it means that you're well trained."

While legislators at the county level are currently working to draft legislation to curb the law, allowing drivers to operate the vehicles without commercial driver's licenses, other government officials, particularly at the town levels, are pointing the blame at the state for this issue even surfacing.

"Attracting and retaining volunteers is difficult enough, and to add this layer of bureaucracy on top will only make it more challenging," Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan said. "It seems our firefighters are permitted to drive under the stress and pressure created by an emergency response, that it only makes sense to allow them to return the equipment they used in the response to the emergency."

Mahan said she is hopeful that "common sense will prevail with regards to this issue," and that the state can amend the law to help the needs of the firefighters in emergency situations.""

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