State may lift license restrictions on firefighters

When the fire companies realized this year that they were breaking the law by allowing non-CDL operators to drive back from emergencies, many fire companies altered their procedures to conform to the law as best they could.

At the Fuller Road Fire Department in Colonie, Chief Kevin Terry said the fire department resorted to remaining "in service" until returning to the fire department from an emergency as a way to get around the law.

"This statute, it kind of put me between a rock and a hard place," Terry said.

Paris said his fire department, the Shaker Road Loudonville Fire Department, has started a program, regardless of whether the governor signs the bill, to cover the costs for anyone wanting to obtain their CDL.

"We have a deal cut in where we're picking the bill up for members that would like to obtain their CDL," said Paris. "It's coming out of our training budget."

Paris said that while not all fire departments are able to do this for their members because they do not have the funding, the Shaker Road Loudonville Fire Department is one of the busiest fire departments in the town. He also said that his fire department wanted to not let the law deeply affect them.

"We were taking steps to be proactive and not reactive to the law. We need to remove the liability from the fire department," Paris said.

Aside from not being able to drive the vehicles without the CDL, Paris spoke of the troubles the fire department was having when it came to training its firefighters to use the apparatus.

"There's a lot that goes in to learning how to use a fire truck," said Paris. "There are 20 or 30 hours that goes in to training somebody on fire apparatuses. A person needs to not only know how to drive to the [fire], but now when we get to that call he needs to make that thing operate."

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