Not So Fast!
The average fire truck carries specialized equipment and firefighters who can perform over 100 tasks at a multitude of emergency situations ranging from house fires to vehicle entrapments to hazardous materials spills. Fire trucks can weigh over 40 tons with a cost of $750,000 or more! Year in and year out fire departments continue to provide local communities with additional services to the public. This often results in the need for increased training and accountability to ensure all legal requirements are being met. Legislation regarding licensing requirements to operate the neighborhood fire truck has changed recently. This new legislation, as shown below, is a perfect example of how complex providing public safety has become. Even the simplest firefighter duty; operating a fire truck is more complex than one may think.
The following information was obtained from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website under the California Vehicle Code -
V C Section 12804.11 Firefighter Endorsement
12804.11. (a) To operate firefighting equipment, a driver, including a tiller operator, is required to obtain and maintain a firefighter endorsement issued by the department and obtain and maintain a class A, class B, or class C license. To qualify for a firefighter endorsement the driver shall do all of the following:
(1) (A) Provide to the department proof of current employment as a firefighter or registration as a volunteer firefighter with a fire department and evidence of fire equipment operation training by providing a letter, or other indication, from the chief of the fire department, or his or her designee.
(B) For purposes of this section, evidence of fire equipment operation training means the applicant has successfully completed Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator 1A taught by an instructor registered with the Office of the State Fire Marshal or fire department driver training that meets all of the following requirements:
(i) Meets or exceeds the standards outlined in NFPA 1002, Chapter 4 (2008 version) or the Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator 1A course adopted by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
(ii) Prepares the applicant to safely operate the department’s fire equipment that the applicant will be authorized to operate.
(iii) Includes a classroom (cognitive) portion of at least 16 hours.
(iv) Includes a manipulative portion of at least 14 hours, which includes directly supervised behind-the wheel driver training.
(C) Driver training shall be conducted by a person who is registered with the Office of the State Fire Marshal to instruct Driver/Operator 1A or a person who meets all of the following criteria:
(i) Possesses a minimum of five years of fire service experience as an emergency vehicle operator, three of which must be at the rank of engineer or higher.
(ii) Possesses a valid California class A or B license or a class A or B license restricted to the operation of firefighting equipment.
(iii) Is certified as a qualified training instructor or training officer by the State of California, the federal government, or a county training officers’ association.
(2) Pass the written firefighter examination developed by the department with the cooperation of the State Fire Marshal’s office.
(3) Submit a report of medical examination on a form approved by the department. The report shall be dated within four years preceding the application date, except as required by paragraph (2) of submission (a) of Section 12804.9. Holders of a restricted firefighters license as of January 1, 2011, are not subject to the requirement for a medical exam until he or she renews his or her license.
(b) There shall be no additional charge for adding a firefighter endorsement to an original license or when renewing a license. To add a firefighter endorsement to an existing license when not renewing the license, the applicant shall pay the fee for a duplicate license pursuant to Section 14901.
(c) (1) A driver of firefighting equipment is subject to the requirements of subdivision (a) if both of the following conditions exist:
(A) The equipment is operated by a person employed as a firefighter by a federal or state agency, by a regularly organized fire department of a city, county, city and county, or district, or by a tribal fire department or registered as a volunteer member of a regularly organized fire department having official recognition of the city, county, city and county, or district in which the department is located, or of a tribal fire department.
(B) The motor vehicle is used to travel to and from the scene of any emergency situation, or to transport equipment used in the control of any emergency situation, and which is owned, leased, or rented by, or under the exclusive control of, a federal or state agency, a regularly organized fire department of a city, county, city and county, or district, a volunteer fire department having official recognition of the city, county, city and county, or district in which the department is located, or a tribal fire department.
(2) A driver of firefighting equipment is not required to obtain and maintain a firefighter endorsement pursuant to subdivision (a) if the driver is operating the firefighting equipment for training purposes, during a nonemergency, while under the direct supervision of a fire department employee who is properly licensed to operate the equipment and is authorized by the fire department to provide training.
(d) For purposes of this section, a tiller operator is the driver of the rear free-axle portion of a ladder truck.
(e) For purposes of this section, “firefighting equipment” means a motor vehicle, that meets the definition of a class A or class B vehicle described in subdivision (b) of Section 12804.9, that is used to travel to and from the scene of an emergency situation, or to transport equipment used in the control of an emergency situation, and that is owned, leased, or rented by, or under the exclusive control of, a federal or state agency, a regularly organized fire department of a city, county, city and county, or district, or a volunteer fire department having official recognition of the city, county, city and county, or district in which the department is located.
(f) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a regularly organized fire department, having official recognition of the city, county, city and county, or district in which the department is located, may require an employee or a volunteer of the fire department who is a driver or operator of firefighting equipment to hold a class A or B license.
(g) This section applies to a person hired by a fire department, or to a person renewing a driver’s license, on or after January 1, 2011. * DMV Website Info
Added Sec. 3, Ch. 360, Stats. 2010. Effective January 1, 2011.