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October 24, 2019 3:30 PM, EDT

Fireworks Companies Seek HOS Exemption From FMCSA

A driver relaxes in his sleeper berthA driver relaxes in his sleeper berth. (Volvo Trucks North America via YouTube)

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Two pyrotechnics companies have asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to grant them exemption from certain hours-of-service rules.

According to a document published in the Federal Register on Oct. 23, Illumination Fireworks Partners and ACE Pyro are requesting reprieve from certain stipulations of the 14-hour rule, which dictates that drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty following a period of 10 hours off duty.

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Based in the Dallas area, Illumination Fireworks specializes in lasers, fireworks and pyrotechnics. ACE Pyro is a fireworks display company based in Manchester, Mich.

Specifically, the companies are asking that truck drivers be allowed to exclude off-duty and sleeper berth time from their calculation of their 14 work hours. These drivers would not be allowed to drive after accumulating 14 hours of on-duty time after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The exemption would apply to 60 commercial motor vehicle drivers involved in staging fireworks shows.

If granted, the exemption would only be in effect June 26-July 8 to coincide with Independence Day celebrations. The exemption would be in place during this window for the next five years.

The applicants cite financial considerations in their request for exemption, stating that strict compliance with the 14-hour rule would require more time and more drivers.

“The applicants state that they are seeking the HOS exemption because compliance with the 14-hour rule would impose economic hardship on cities, municipalities and themselves,” reads the Federal Register document. “Complying with the existing regulation means that most shows would require two drivers, significantly increasing the cost of the fireworks display.”

The applicants note their drivers have maintained clean safety records. The applicants also state that drivers travel relatively short distances (no more than 150 miles) to transport fireworks in the days leading up to a celebratory extravaganza. Additionally, the drivers usually travel in the early morning when traffic is light.

FMCSA granted Illumination Fireworks and ACE Pyro a similar HOS exemption in 2014.

FMCSA logo

Pyrotechnics groups have asked FMCSA for reprieve from HOS regulations in the past. In April, Extreme Logistics and the American Pyrotechnics Association filed separate exemption requests regarding certain HOS rules.

Like Illumination Fireworks and ACE Pyro, Extreme Logistics asked for relief from certain stipulations of the 14-hour rule. Extreme Logistics cited the same financial concerns spelled out in the request from Illumination Fireworks and ACE Pyro.

The American Pyrotechnics Association, which represents the fireworks industry, including display professionals, retailers, manufacturers and distributors, asked for an exemption from HOS rules for four of its members who had not previously participated in the group’s past exemptions during this season. The association’s member companies are responsible for 90% of the fireworks distributed and displayed in the United States.

The American Pyrotechnics Association’s request was two-pronged. Like Extreme Logistics, it asked that drivers be allowed to exclude off-duty and sleeper berth time from the calculation of their 14-hour work limit. They also asked that FMCSA allow these same drivers to use paper logs instead of electronic devices to record hours of service during the Independence Day season.

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