Ramos Sponsors Bill to Close First Responder Law Loophole

March 13, 2009
Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Central Islip) announced that he is sponsoring legislation (A6051) which would ensure firefighters can legally operate emergency vehicles without a commercial driver license (CDL), closing a loophole that threatened to penalize unlicensed first responders.

The bill amends the current law (Ch. 60 of 2005), which allows any first responder with a valid driver license to drive an emergency vehicle to the scene of an accident, but requires only those with a commercial driver license to drive the vehicle back to the station.

“This presents a rather awkward situation where a first responder drives a fire vehicle to the scene of an emergency and after its conclusion, is forced to deliberately disobey the law so that

they can return the truck to the firehouse,” said Ramos, who serves as Chair of the Subcommittee on Volunteer Emergency Services

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allows each state to waive the commercial driver license requirement for first responders. Historically, New York State statute has provided this waiver to allow firefighters and volunteer first responders to operate fire vehicles with class D licenses. However, in 2005 the state amended this statute to prohibit emergency service responders with class D licenses from operating emergency vehicles after the emergency in question has concluded.

“This bill would allow the 800 or so volunteer firefighters in Islip to drive emergency vehicles without commercial licenses for things such as emergency calls, drills, training, fire inspection, public education, public events and maintenance.” Ramos concluded.