What Is A Firefighter Endorsement? Do You Need One?

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If you want to find out more about firefighter endorsement and what it all means, then you have come to the right place. This is something that we are going to look at in this article, so you can have a better understanding of it.

Finding out more about firefighter endorsements can also help you to decide if you need to get one or not. If you are interested in finding out more, just keep reading.

What is a Firefighter Endorsement?

A firefighter endorsement is a type of driver’s license that is issued by the DMV in some states, which allows both career and volunteer firefighters to drive a fire engine or truck, even if they have a class C non-commercial driver’s license.

For a firefighter to be able to legally drive a fire engine and fire truck, they would need to be properly trained and licensed.

The firefighter endorsement is a newer standard of certifying firefighters to drive fire apparatus in the majority of US states.

Essentially, firefighter endorsements are really important as they allow firefighters and fire engineers to drive and operate fire department apparatus without having to get a Class A or Class B driver’s license.

This can also make it much easier for fire departments to complete the necessary training for their drivers.

The Importance of Firefighter Endorsements

To further highlight the importance of firefighter endorsements, we are going to look at something in particular that happened in California in 2018.

California is well-known for its catastrophic wildfire seasons over the last few years, and they have received global recognition for this. However, the wildfire in 2018 was the one that caused the most destruction. 

Almost 1.9 million acres of land was impacted, and 97 civilians and 6 firefighters were killed. Unfortunately, 2019 was just as devastating, as it destroyed 260,000 acres of land, and 5 people were killed in the fire.

It became clear that having the most skilled fire departments was quickly becoming a requirement.

California has a continuing need for trained firefighters, and the simplicity of attaining a firefighter endorsement is especially beneficial.

How to Apply for a Firefighter Endorsement

All applicants will need to apply at a local DMV office, meet all licensing requirements, and must submit an original firefighter employment and training verification letter on fire department letterhead.

This must contain your certification of employment as a firefighter or proof of registration as a volunteer.

You will also need a certificate of completion of fire equipment operator training and the signature of your fire chief or designee.

As well as this, you will need to submit a completed health questionnaire, and complete the training requirements for firefighter endorsement applicants. 

All applicants will need to have either Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator 1A training administered by an instructor registered with the Office of the State Fire Marshal or fire department driver training that meets the following requirements:

  • Meets or exceeds the standards that are outlined in the National Fire Protection Association 
  • Prepares the applicant to safely operate the department’s fire equipment
  • Includes a classroom portion of at least 16 hours
  • Included a practical portion of at least 14 hours, and this should also include directly supervised behind-the-wheel driver training

Firefighter trainees will not need to obtain a firefighter endorsement before their training, as long as the trainer is properly licensed and is an authorized fire department employee.

If you do have any questions surrounding the application for a fire endorsement, then you can get in touch with the DMV Commercial Licensing Policy Unit at (916) 657-6550.

Fire Engine Driving Requirements

There are lots of different terms for the same position when it comes to driving a fire engine or truck, like drive, engineer, fire engineer or driver, and operator.

In departments that are larger, this can be a position that is promoted to after being a firefighter. However, there are other departments that, depending on the staffing situation, will even have brand-new firefighters driving the apparatus.

It used to be the case that the DMV required anyone that was driving a fire engine or truck to have a Class A or Class B driver’s license. While some states still follow these rules, the majority of them have switched to the new requirements.

The following definitions can vary depending on the state that you live in, but they are generally as follows:

Class A:

  • Any combination of vehicles, if any vehicle being towed has a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000lbs, any vehicle towing more than 1 vehicle, any trailer bus, any vehicle under Class B or Class C.

Class B:

  •  Any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000lbs, any single vehicle with 3 or more axles (except those that weigh less than 6,000lbs), any bus except a trailer bus,  any farm labor vehicle, any 3 or more axle vehicle or vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more 26,000lb towing another vehicle with a rating of 10,000lbs, any motorhome over 40 feet in length,  any vehicle covered under Class C.

Firefighter Endorsement:

  • An addition to a normal Class C driver’s license. The process that is involved for getting a Class A or B license is much more involved than that of a firefighter endorsement. This means that the training and certification process is both easier and faster for firefighters. This can be particularly beneficial in small countries that have volunteer departments.

When Did the Rules Change?

The rules changed in 2011, when driver license requirements for engineers in California changed.

Their requirements went from needing a Class B license with the firefighter restricted endorsements to being able to get a firefighter endorsement on a Class C driver’s license after meeting the requirements.

Read next: What Do Firefighters Do When There Is No Fire?

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