The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced its decision Thursday to renew the hours-of-service exemptions for drivers of fireworks haulers Illumination Fireworks and ACE Pyro, allowing them to drive beyond the 14th hour of coming on duty.
The exemption allow drivers to accumulate 14 on-duty hours rather than working a straight 14-hour window. Both the companies and FMCSA say the exemption allows the fireworks haulers to return their equipment and any leftover fireworks to their home base after fireworks shows end.
The renewal covers approximately 50 drivers employed by the two companies, who stage fireworks shows celebrating Independence Day during the period June 28-July 8.
During that period, the truck operators for each company will be allowed to exclude off-duty and sleeper-berth time of any length from the calculation of their 14 hours. The drivers will not be allowed to drive after accumulating a total of 14 hours on-duty time, following 10 consecutive hours off duty, and will continue to be subject to the 11-hour driving limit and the 60- and 70-hour weekly on-duty limits.
The applicants assert that without the extra duty-period provided by the exemption, safety would decline because fireworks drivers would be unable to return to their home base after each show should they have fireworks remaining after the display.
In the last few days before the Independence Day holiday, these drivers transport fireworks over relatively short routes from distribution points to the site of the fireworks displays, and they normally do so in the early morning when traffic is light, according to the original application.
The applicants noted that during the 2014 Independence Day season, the furthest drivers for Illumination Fireworks or ACE Pyro traveled from their home bases was 150 miles, which involves a short amount of driving time. At the site, they spend considerable time installing, wiring, and safety-checking the fireworks displays, followed by several hours of duty in the late afternoon and early evening prior to the event. During this time, the drivers are able to rest and nap, thereby reducing or eliminating the fatigue accumulated during the day, says the companies.
Before beginning another duty day, these drivers must take 10 consecutive hours off duty, the same as other drivers.