U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has introduced the SAFE DRONE Act, which would make it a misdemeanor offense for an individual to knowingly operate a drone within two miles of a fire, an airport or other restricted airspace.
According to Boxer, the bill follows a series of recent incidents where reckless drone operators have forced firefighting agencies to suspend all air operations out of concern for the safety of the pilots and people on the ground.
Nationwide, the senator says, the U.S. Forest Service has identified 13 different instances this year where drones interfered with firefighting efforts – up from only four the previous year. This year in California, there have been five cases where drones have hindered firefighting efforts, Boxer adds.
“Our firefighters and airplane pilots should be focused on keeping the public safe – not worrying about unauthorized drones that recklessly interfere with their jobs,” she states.
The act would allow federal, state or local agencies and firefighters to use drones in restricted airspace for legitimate purposes, such as surveying the size of a fire.
Congressman John Garamendi, D-Calif., recently introduced the House version of the bill.