SACRAMENTO–Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) Senate Bill 807, which would protect forests, property and the lives of citizens, firefighters and emergency personnel from drone interference, was signed by Governor Brown.
“Wildfires continue to ravage our state and we can’t have drones or anything else getting in the way of the first-class emergency response we get from all of our firefighters and public safety officers. These are life-and-death situations where a single delay can lead to tragedy. Let’s keep drones away to protect people and property,” said Senator Gaines. “I want to thank Governor Brown for signing this critical piece of legislation. He understands that these unauthorized drones are putting lives at risk and have no business in emergency areas.”
Senate Bill 807 will grant civil immunity to an emergency responder who damages an unmanned aircraft in the course of firefighting, air ambulance, or search-and-rescue operations. The bill stems from alarming reports of private, unauthorized drones causing mission-critical aircraft to be grounded during firefighting and medical response operations, putting pilots, firefighters, civilians and property at unnecessary risk.
Senator Gaines believes drones hold great promise for wildfire suppression and other emergency services when used properly by public safety, but does not want rogue drones to interfere with the most effective response to time-sensitive crises.
“First, I want everyone to know that interfering with firefighting or other emergency activities is reckless and wrong. Let’s get the word out as far and wide as we can – immediately – to help keep our people and emergency personnel safe,” said Senator Gaines. “This bill will help ensure our skies are protected. People can replace drones, but we can’t replace a life. Public safety should be our absolute number one priority.”