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California Bill Would Let Firefighters Destroy Drones Interfering With Public Safety

SACRAMENTO(CBS SF) -- Anyone caught flying a drone over a fire or emergency scene could have it destroyed under a proposed bill.

In the past year there have been five cases of firefighting aircraft not being able to deploy fire retardant due to hobbyist drones flying in the area.

Last week, a fast-moving blaze on Interstate 15 jumped the freeway and burned 30 cars. A recreational drone flying nearby forced officials to halt water drops.

It's inspired State Senator Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) to introduce SB 168 to fine hobbyist drone operators $5,000 and/or six months in jail for getting in the way of firefighters.

Additionally, companion legislation would shield firefighters who destroy drones for liability. Gaines said destroying a drone is the high-tech equivalent of ramming a car that's in the way of a fire hydrant.

"If a drone gets caught in a jet engine or in a propeller of a aircraft or helicopter, you're putting lives at risk," Gaines said.

There are currently no California laws that clarify the use of recreational drones during an emergency situation.

The proposed legislation has had bipartisan support  so far.


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