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April 19, 2019 2:15 PM, EDT

FMCSA Receives HOS Exemption Requests From Fireworks Groups

Fireworks Groups A fireworks show. (Getty Images)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has received separate exemption requests from Extreme Logistics and the American Pyrotechnics Association regarding certain hours-of-service rules.

Extreme Logistics, a fireworks display company, is asking for 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 after a period of 10 hours off duty. Specifically, the company is 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 following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

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According to the document published in the Federal Register on April 18, the exemption would apply to the drivers of 12 commercial motor vehicles who are involved in staging fireworks shows.

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

Extreme Logistics cites financial considerations in its request for exemption, stating that strict compliance with the 14-hour rule would require more time and more drivers.

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

Extreme Logistics noted that its drivers have never been involved in an accident and attested that the exemption would not alter that safety record. As a safety measure, the exemption would require a motor carrier to notify FMCSA within five days of any crash.

The applicants also state that drivers travel relatively short distances to transport fireworks in the days leading up to a celebratory extravaganza. In 2018, the farthest Extreme Logistics drivers traveled to haul supplies for a show was 150 miles. Additionally, the drivers usually travel in the early morning when traffic is light.

Extreme Logistics’ exemption application appears in the Federal Register the same day as a similar request from the American Pyrotechnics Association, which represents the fireworks industry, including display professionals, retailers, manufacturers and distributors. Extreme Logistics is not a member of APA. Julie Heckman, executive director of APA, said she was not familiar with Extreme Logistics.

Extreme Logistics Request by Transport Topics on Scribd

APA is asking for an exemption from HOS rules for four of its members who had not previously participated in APA’s past exemptions during this season. The members are: Celebration Fireworks Inc., International Fireworks Manufacturing Company Inc., Johnny Rockets Display Company and the Wald & Co. All American Display Fireworks Company.

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

This request builds on a previous petition, which FMCSA granted the association in February. APA’s member companies are responsible for 90% of the fireworks distributed and displayed in the U.S. In addition to transport, APA’s drivers set up and stage the shows.

Similar to Extreme Logistics, APA cites financial concern in the request for flexibility during the 14-hour workday. The association also claims that allowing drivers to use paper logs during the Independence Day season would not negatively impact safety.

APA members rely on intermittent drivers periodically throughout the year. The industry leases 90% of its vehicles, including straight trucks, pickup trucks and cargo vans, for less than 30 days at a time. The days surrounding the Fourth of July are busiest, as approximately 16,000 professional shows occur during this time.

“APA’s members have operated under the exemption from the 14-hour rule for 12 previous Independence Day periods without incident,” the Federal Register document states. “Without the extra time provided by the exemption from the 14-hour rule, safety would decline because APA drivers would be unable to return to their home base after each show.”

Members of the public may submit comments on both Extreme Logistics’ and APA’s requests through May 20.

APA Request by Transport Topics on Scribd