Local fire departments breath a sigh of relief as state lifts CDL requirement

ALBANY – The Brisben Volunteer Fire Department participated in both the Oxford and Greene Memorial Day parades this Monday, something they wouldn’t have been able to do without the efforts of state lawmakers and the signature of the governor himself.

“Firefighters perform an extraordinarily honorable and valuable service for our communities. We need to do everything we can to ensure that they are not needlessly burdened in carrying out their essential tasks,” Governor David Paterson said in a statement issued on Friday, shortly after he signed legislation which amended the state’s vehicle and traffic law.

The amendment allows non-commercially licensed firefighters and emergency responders to once more drive emergency vehicles to and from emergency situations, as well as for training, public education and other official duties, including parades.

“(This) relieves a huge burden on our departments,” said Chenango County Fire Coordinator Matt Beckwith.

According to Brisben Fire Chief Brian Burt, his department would not have been able to have trucks in both parades on Monday had the governor not signed the legislation on Friday. His major concern regarding the CDL requirement was not related to participation in either parade.

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