Feinstein Urges Justice Department to Prevent Drones from Interfering with Firefighting

Feinstein Urges Justice Department to Prevent Drones from Interfering with Firefighting title=
Feinstein Urges Justice Department to Prevent Drones from Interfering with Firefighting
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Source: Office of Dianne Feinstein

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called on the Department of Justice to exercise its legal authority to prevent drones from interfering with firefighting efforts in California and throughout the West.

“Troubling reports have surfaced, such as on October 31, 2019, when the Ventura County Fire Department’s aerial operations to contain the Maria Fire had to be halted when a drone was spotted in the immediate airspace,” Senator Feinstein wrote.

“However, despite continued drone interference with critical firefighting operations, it is my understanding that the Department has yet to use this new legal authority to address the problem. I ask that the Department begin using its new authority as quickly as possible so that lives are not endangered by drone interference with firefighting efforts.”

Full text of the letter follows:

November 15, 2019

Mr. Brian A. Benczkowski
Assistant Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Benczkowski:

I write regarding recent reports of unauthorized drones interfering in wildfire fighting efforts in California, and I ask that you prioritize the Department of Justice’s resources to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts.

In recent years, California has faced increasingly devastating wildfires, which have been among the deadliest and most destructive in state history. Fortunately, emergency first responders have been able to act quickly this year to contain and suppress fires, saving countless communities, homes, and lives.

However, troubling reports have surfaced, such as on October 31, 2019, when the Ventura County Fire Department’s aerial operations to contain the Maria Fire had to be halted when a drone was spotted in the immediate airspace. This is not the first reported incident of this nature, and such incidents will likely continue until the Department acts quickly to deter such actions through increased enforcement of current law prohibiting civilian drone operations in active wildfire areas.

In response to previous drone incursions into airspace near wildfires, Congress included a provision in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 authorizing the Department to prosecute individuals if they interfere, either knowingly or recklessly, with emergency response efforts regarding wildfire suppression.

However, despite continued drone interference with critical firefighting operations, it is my understanding that the Department has yet to use this new legal authority to address the problem. I ask that the Department begin using its new authority as quickly as possible so that lives are not endangered by drone interference with firefighting efforts.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator
CC: Administrator Steve Dickson, Federal Aviation Administration
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jak Dec 01, 2019 08:13 AM
Feinstein Urges Justice Department to Prevent Drones from Interfering with Firefighting

Shooting a drone with a firearm from a moving aircraft is dangerous and completely futile (though with a properly selected shotgun it might be less than completely futile). Justice department action is also futile until there is a specific suspect to investigate and prosecute. And no, drones do not have to be registered (or have “a uniquely assigned MAC address” or transponder) unless they are being used commercially or are over a certain size. No easy solutions here folks, but a great opportunity for a cynical politician to cheer for the good guys.

Luvaduck Dec 01, 2019 05:17 PM
Feinstein Urges Justice Department to Prevent Drones from Interfering with Firefighting

Good idea to have them individually registered by ownership. Maybe something can be done to identify them electronically?--and fine the hell out of the idiots who think taking pictures that disrupt fire protection for thousands of people and their homes is more important. They are beyond self-centered and the <crime> is as serious as blocking a road so fire equiment can't pass.

ParvoPup Nov 30, 2019 07:29 PM
Feinstein Urges Justice Department to Prevent Drones from Interfering with Firefighting

I thought all drones had to registered when purchased - did that change recently? If not, require that all Drone manufacturers equip their drones with a small radio device that broadcasts the unique MAC address of the drone. Tune a receiver to the frequency and collect the ownership info. Either that or a 50 Cal on the nose of one the helicopters.

a-1576001562 Dec 01, 2019 03:26 PM
Feinstein Urges Justice Department to Prevent Drones from Interfering with Firefighting

Someone hasn't considered the consequences of firing 50cal rounds around a fire scene... I mean, who cares about collateral damage to firefighters and fire fighting equipment in the area, let alone residents. Getting tough and going all authoritarian on the ne'er do well is what counts above all... just like that thin skinned gentleman we hear about E V E R Y darned D A Y. Praying for the return of sanity.

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