Assemblywoman Patty Berg called Monday to say that she'd prodded the Department of Motor of Vehicles into reinstating Salyer Volunteer Fire Department's Dave Murphy as the guy who gives fire fighters their driving tests so they can drive the fire engines and water tender trucks.
We wrote about this in the June 19 Journal.
To recap: Murphy's been testing firefighters up and down the mountains of Humboldt and Del Norte counties, from Orleans out to Weaverville, for 10 years under an employee testing program set up by the DMV. The set-up streamlined things for firefighters in the sticks, making it more convenient and efficient for them to get firefighter driver's licenses. But suddenly the DMV shut down Murphy's program, because of a law change. Some firefighters, who'd been scheduled to take the driving test, had to make new arrangements to go to Eureka -- the ridiculous logistics that would entail meant some couldn't get it done in time before their permits expired.
Berg wrote to DMV Director George Valverde asking him to reverse the decision, but she never heard back. "So then I phoned him," she said. And she got Valverde to reinstate Murphy as the employee tester for his region.
No doubt the fires consuming acreage out there in the hills helped with the decision.
"We depend on these firefighters," Berg said. "And Salyer has been doing [these tests] for nearly 20 rural fire departments."
So Murphy can test for now. But Berg said likely there'll need to be some legislative action in the future to fix the law that caused the whole problem in the first place.
Meanwhile, however, Willow Creek VFD firefighter Tom Smithey called us to say that the window of opportunity for Murphy to conduct the tests has, alas, probably closed for this season. Murphy leads convict fire crews, which travel all over the state to fight fires.
"He could be anywhere now," said Smithey.