Senator Gaines' Bill To Keep Drones Out Of Emergency Zones Heads To Governor

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) today announced his Senate Bill 807, which would protect forests, property and the lives of citizens, firefighters and emergency personnel from drone interference, passed out of both houses and is now headed to the Governor.

“To think that someone would interfere with firefighting or emergency response situations to get a sneak peek or to post a drone video on YouTube is an outrage,” said Senator Gaines. “I’m pleased that my legislative colleagues agreed, and I am hopeful for the Governor’s support of this critical bill.”

Senate Bill 807 will grant civil immunity to any 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.

“We are in the middle of California’s dangerous wildfire season, and 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.”