Sound the alarm! Firefighters are more than you think. Firefighters are CDL truck drivers too!
Bustling down the road and sirens blaring, engineers dodge cars, traffic lights, and pedestrians as they speed to the next important call. Due to it’s size, color, and flashing lights, firetrucks are easy to spot. But, the engineer might not always see you. From the driver’s seat, the engineer only sees what’s in front of him, and he’s got more blind spots than Ray Charles. When you see a firetruck coming up fast behind you, remember to pull over safely to the right of the road, stop, and put on your flashers until the firetruck has safely passed your lanes.
Firetrucks are big, loud, and carry the best trained men and women ready to save lives, even if it means they’ll risk their own in the process. But, how do they manage to operate that enormous truck, in and out of traffic, safely to their destination? Surely, firefighters are trained to save lives, put out fires, and are certified as one of the strongest arms of our public safety. But, do they know how much stopping distance they need to safety avoid an accident? Are they familiar with air brake systems? Do they perform regular maintenance checks on the vehicle for worn or faulty parts?
The answer- Yes they do.
Did you know that firefighters are required to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate that big truck? Yup, just like the 18-Wheel CDL Truck Drivers hauling product all over the country, firefighters are required to obtain a special license to drive a fire truck. See, depending on the vehicle make and model, firetrucks’ weight can vary from 35,000 – 65,000 lbs, always heavier than the 26,001 minimum weight requiring an operator to obtain a CDL to drive. Some states offer exemptions to the federal rulings for firefighters, but most require that at least the engineer operating the firetruck hold a commercial license or equivalent.
And, that’s a good thing in my book! Who wants a big red firetruck running around town with an inexperienced CDL truck driver at the wheel? (Not me)
Next time I see a fire truck bustling down the road behind me, I’ll pull over slowly to the side of the road, and I’ll be happier knowing that the odds of the firemen responding safely to their emergency destination are pretty good, especially with a trained CDL Truck Driver behind the wheel.