In this site, we often talk about how the government tends to overregulate the use of drones, which prevents many advancements from taking place. However, we have also stated numerous times how big of a responsibility it is to own and fly a drone. One case that seems to indicate that people have a long way to go before truly becoming responsible drone owners is the one in California where irresponsible drone owners may have got in the way of firefighters during wildfire incidents.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted recently to offer a $75,000 reward to find the pilots of the drones who got in the way of helicopters used to fight the fire.
CNN actually reported on the issue, citing how the drones delayed responses for up to 20 minutes and creating unsafe flying conditions.
San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Eric Sherwin said, “Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities to report, but the 15 to 20 minutes that those helicopters were grounded meant that 15 to 20 minutes were lost that could have led to another water drop cycle, and that would have created a much safer environment and we would not have seen as many citizens running for their lives.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos said, “This type of activity is not going to be tolerated when first responders are trying to put out fires that drastically affect the constituents of San Bernardino County.”
A hotline will be established for tips. The bounty will also be split three ways to cover three incidents involving the misuse of drones.
Aside from the reward money, a bill is also in the works to be filed by Sen. Ted Gaines and Assemblyman Mike Gatto later this summer. The bill will include provisions with regards to immunity granted to emergency responders when they damage any unmanned aircraft.
In a press release, Gaines said, “This is maddening and I can’t believe that hobby drones are risking people’s lives to get videos on YouTube. Cars were torched on the freeways because drones made aerial firefighting efforts impossible. This bill will help make sure the skies are clear of drones and that the brave men and women fighting these fires can do their job of protecting the public without worrying about frivolous lawsuits.”
On that note, we certainly think that this is a fair assessment of the situation since, unless they are used by the authorities, drones should be nowhere near such places during emergencies.