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Thread: Does a Chief have authority to override state law

  1. #1
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    Default Does a Chief have authority to override state law

    With respect to the commercial vehicle laws in California and the pre trip inspection. If I am contacted by my Batallion Chief and told to "get on the road" to a non emergency planned event and I advise him that until my engineer completes the legally required pre trip inspection we will not be able to do so. He then restates his request and says thats an order.

    Can I refuse this order as unlawful?

    HELP - I'm faced with a decision that either has me violating CA state law or disobeying a direct order - what would you do?

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    think I would go with the BC, and metion nicely that the pre trip has not been done

    do you have the specfic section reference you can post requireing the pre inspection

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    I'll try and post the section of the law pertaining to the pre trip inspection for all to view, but I'm confident that he doesn't have the authority to do what he is doing after speaking to the CA Highway Patrol who enforces the commercial vehicle laws. So I'm now looking for

    1. Any experiences out there dealing with this topic and how it was resolved.

    2. The average time it takes most engineers to compentantly complete the pre trip inspection and its documentation. Most of the reading I have done suggests that this is one of the most violated laws on the books. In fact the Highway Patrol has stated that by the letter of the law we are required to reinspect after every run. Imagine the time impact if we have to start doing this.

    Thanks again for your response

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    Should have asked

    Do you have a daily vehicle inspection sog??

    Do you have a daily vehicle inspection sign off sheet??

  5. #5
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    Are fire apparatus considered to be CMV's in California? Are your drivers required to hold a CDL?
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    Yes to both questions

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    and?????????

    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    Should have asked

    Do you have a daily vehicle inspection sog??

    Do you have a daily vehicle inspection sign off sheet??

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    You can not be forced to break the law. However, you had better be sure of your position before you decide to disobey the direct order.

    When I say sure, I mean you better be able to know which part of the vehicle code supports your position and be able to cite it verbatim.

    I used to sit around the table at pass-along and listen to the firehouse "lawyers" talk about the law. When pressed for proof of their position they would either make something up that was completely BS or snap like a dry twig stating it was something they "had heard."

    After three decades in the firehouse, I became aware that the term, "I heard" was synonymous with "I have no clue."
    Last edited by scfire86; 10-22-2012 at 09:54 AM.
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    Are you for real???????? yes we have a dailly inspection log and yes we have a daily inspection sign off sheet. Can u get real or are u just a typical coffee table laywer? I thought this was a serious exchange of ideas. Good luck to you

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    Thank you my friend. I appreciate your straight forward answer and the experience you bring to the table. I've only logged 22 years to date, but I have to agree with your assessment. I'm simply trying to see if anyone else has been down this road and could save me some valuable time. I've actually been in touch with a lawyer that specializes in public safety law and I'm happy to say that you are dead on with your thoughts. The fire chief was a fireman when I got hired and I've been friends with him since then, but the promotion to Chief caused some strange departure from common sense. I still hope he will listen and take one of the numerous solutions laid out in front of him that addresses the district's needs and goals while, at the same time, respecting the legal obligations of his employees. I will let you know how it turns out>

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    Quote Originally Posted by mpfdcapt66 View Post
    Are you for real???????? yes we have a dailly inspection log and yes we have a daily inspection sign off sheet. Can u get real or are u just a typical coffee table laywer? I thought this was a serious exchange of ideas. Good luck to you
    Sorry !!!!!

    Not all depts have a written requirement for daily vehicle check

    If that does not address this problem seems like it needs a rewrite

    Sounds like this is going to far, just set down with everyone and address the issue

    Still have not seen the traffic code with the requirement posted

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    No reply

    No traffic section reference

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    As an assistant chief and the owner of a trucking company I can give you some perspective. Federal law states that you have to do a daily pre trip. You do not have to do it after every run. This is true of fire trucks or big rigs. Once a day before you begin work. In reality it should only take about ten mins to go over the truck. Check tires, lights, brakes oil, water, ect. It in no way should be long and drawn out or take any signifgant amount of time. I hate to be a troll but alot of people use this as an excuse to screw off for 45 mins when it in no way should take that long. If your engineer is not retarded it shouldnt be an issue.
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    I also am surprised this is an issue, but only from the other point of view. Very old school. The BC gives you a verbal order...you obey that order. Immediately. Chain of command trumps some silly regulation. We had daily apparatus inspections 40 years ago. Once a week the Engineers also crawled underneath on a creeper and checked everything. Everything underneath should be as clean as on top, but in the winter that was not physically possible.

    My feeble old school point of view here is that a good Engineer checked out his apparatus whenever needed. I did. If some BC has a bee in his bonnet about getting some public relations thing on the road, then you said "Yes Sir" and you did NOT do that redundant vehicle safety check AT THAT TIME. No big deal. You could do it as a public service demonstration if nothing else. We always defaulted to obeying odors. (sp) HB of CJ (old coot) (ex FF PM RN)
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    Even though you dredged up an old thread, I will have to respectfully disagree with your old school view. The FEDERAL Department of Transportation (DOT) laws are much, much different now than they were back in your old school years. The DOT has been cracking down on commercial motor vehicles (CMV's) for several years now, and it's only getting worse. If, for any reason, an officer trained on CMV's pulls over a fire truck on a non-emergency response trip down the road (assuming that truck is considered a CMV like has been stated is the case for CA) and the pre-trip is NOT done, you can rest assured that the light penalty will be a ticket to the driver and the rig is parked until the pre-trip is done. For a "normal" CMV that requires a pre-trip in that same situation, chances are the driver will get a hefty fine, the rig is parked for a long while and the DOT officer will be going over the rig with a fine toothed comb and will find EVERY possible thing wrong with the rig (and don't kid yourself, there are things wrong with EVERY truck on the road, it's just a matter of how severe they are...).

    Hell, for me as a landscaper on my full time job, if I get pulled over by a DOT officer here while I'm driving a 1-ton dump truck and pulling a trailer, one of the first questions out of their mouth is going to be asking whether I did a pre-trip inspection. I don't have to document it, but I sure as hell have to take a couple minutes and make sure everything is working. On top of that, if for ANY reason at all I don't have my medical card WITH me (proof of DOT physical), my truck is parked until a driver can get there that has a medical card on them.

    Yeah, you may have been able to get away without the pre-trip back in the day, but times have changed. Do the pre-trip. If it's that big of an issue to get out of the station at a certain time, make sure the engineer is there early to get it done!

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    The point I am making here respectfully is that a long time ago we already had a program in place that worked....long before the Feds federalised the American Fire Service. There was no need for our fire departments to be burdened with additional redundant silly Federal regulations. They were already in place. The Engineer, (apparatus operator, pump operator, Ariel operator) routinely inspected his assigned apparatus whenever it was required. Sometimes this occurred several times in a 24 hour shift. If conditions warranted it, the inspection was done after every emergency response.

    And....never start a paragraph with a conjunction. No....wait. What I mean is that because the apparatus routinely was "good to go", it was kinda non relevant whether or not some federally required check off list be done at exactly at 0800 hours. Which then ties into just instantly obeying the verbal order of a Battalion Chief and rolling immediately to a public information event WITHOUT first conducting another apparatus inspection which was not required or needed to begin with. Which was my point. An agency is better off maintaining a crisp chain of command; including verbal orders.

    Oh yeah...we agree. The Fire Service has certainly changed. However....which way has it gone? Who controls YOUR fire department? The local tax payers......or the FEDS? And....is that good or bad? In my humble opinion, not good at all. Others will disagree which is good. Young people today have no experience with the way things were. Having been outside for years and now just looking back inside the door, I do not like what I see. Yes I am very old school. That is the way it was back then. We did everything except salute. My humble opinions only. HB of CJ (old coot)

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    Quote Originally Posted by HBofCJ View Post
    The point I am making here respectfully is that a long time ago we already had a program in place that worked....long before the Feds federalised the American Fire Service. There was no need for our fire departments to be burdened with additional redundant silly Federal regulations. They were already in place. The Engineer, (apparatus operator, pump operator, Ariel operator) routinely inspected his assigned apparatus whenever it was required. Sometimes this occurred several times in a 24 hour shift. If conditions warranted it, the inspection was done after every emergency response.

    And....never start a paragraph with a conjunction. No....wait. What I mean is that because the apparatus routinely was "good to go", it was kinda non relevant whether or not some federally required check off list be done at exactly at 0800 hours. Which then ties into just instantly obeying the verbal order of a Battalion Chief and rolling immediately to a public information event WITHOUT first conducting another apparatus inspection which was not required or needed to begin with. Which was my point. An agency is better off maintaining a crisp chain of command; including verbal orders.

    Oh yeah...we agree. The Fire Service has certainly changed. However....which way has it gone? Who controls YOUR fire department? The local tax payers......or the FEDS? And....is that good or bad? In my humble opinion, not good at all. Others will disagree which is good. Young people today have no experience with the way things were. Having been outside for years and now just looking back inside the door, I do not like what I see. Yes I am very old school. That is the way it was back then. We did everything except salute. My humble opinions only. HB of CJ (old coot)
    You hairbags didn't salute?
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    Quote Originally Posted by HBofCJ View Post
    The point I am making here respectfully is that a long time ago we already had a program in place that worked....long before the Feds federalised the American Fire Service. There was no need for our fire departments to be burdened with additional redundant silly Federal regulations. They were already in place...
    Funny thing is...a lot of the new laws/regulations exist now simply because these things weren't done and weren't working.
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    I'm an old school Engineer also and my rig is always ready....If the B.C. says "Hit it" I do.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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