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house Bill H.R. 5040

Should the Gov’t Study the Impact of Private Drones Interfering With Wildfire Suppression Efforts & Ways to Prevent Drone Incursions?

Argument in favor

When unauthorized drones enter a wildfire area, firefighters are forced to ground helicopters, manned aircraft, and their own drones — which take critical tools off the table, wasting time and resources in the fight to contain and suppress wildfires. The report produced by this bipartisan bill would illuminate the scope of the problem and explore solutions to disable or seize unauthorized drones.

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12/12/2020
Why not “what wise man wouldn’t first consider the cost. The fact is I’ve seen physical evidence and have knowledge of people. That have purchased Bonafide Fire Department equipment. Some of these individuals Remarked Equipment. A fire truck to appear it belonged to a Bonafide Fire District. Think what a disastrous outcome it would be if they intercepted radio transmissions and appeared to answer a Bonafide Callout only to soomhoow botch the response?
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Joann's Opinion
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12/10/2020
Not worried about drones, although there has to be some control over them. Cant depend on people having common sense over flying them......however just to interject something here. Need to tell Trump to get out, so Americans can go on with their lives. He has totally put America in a bind. Doesnt have a clue. He is running scared because i think financially he is in a big hole
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Adam's Opinion
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12/11/2020
I agree that restrictions and deterrents should be made so that wild-land firefighters are able to maintain the adequate amounts of resources that are available to them. However, I also believe that we need to protect recreational drone pilots right because of how strict they are currently. If we keep restricting the rights of recreational drone pilots at the rate that we currently are then in the near future these pilots will have no where to fly, which would be a tragic loss of a great hobby for parents to get their children interested in learning my about the aviation industry and the STEM community. Thank you for your time to read my opinion.
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Argument opposed

Congress shouldn’t ask federal agencies to research the number of drone incursions or ways to disable or seize drones belonging to recreational enthusiasts who venture into protected airspace around wildfires. The government is already going through the process of restricting the airspace, which private drone owners should comply with.

jimK's Opinion
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12/10/2020
No. What is there to study? If nimrods want to fly their drones into restricted airspace just shoot them down, spray foam over them to make them crash, microwave them to failure, jam their frequencies, use RF locators to find the operators and prosecute the assholes that would interfere with fire fighting operations. Do this loudly, with exemplary penalties and bounties for catching the operators, and they will stop. At least you could gain a new funding source for paying fire fighters and purchasing requisite equipment.
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larubia's Opinion
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12/10/2020
JimK, I agree. No need to study. Firefighters can tell you they get in the way. Destroy them & fine the owners. Put the monies toward those who heroically fight fires !
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singinghawk926's Opinion
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12/10/2020
I think I will bow to those here who are from the West Coast and anywhere else that is battling fires. But generally speaking, it seems silly to expend funds studying a problem that clearly has to do with holding violators accountable for violating regulations. If there are insufficient laws to use in holding violators accountable, make the necessary laws to hold them accountable. Budget: $0. Support: Bipartisan.
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What is House Bill H.R. 5040?

This bill — known as the Aerial Incursion Repercussion Safety Act of 2020 or the AIR Safety Act of 2020 — would direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to study the effects of drone incursions on the suppression of wildfires on lands managed by the Dept. of the Interior (DOI) or the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), of which the Forest Service is a subagency. It would also study potential methods to disable or seize drones that are interfering with wildfire suppression activities. Agencies tasked with fighting wildfires have reported a rising number of instances in which recreational, consumer drones are observed flying in protected airspace needed for aerial firefighting tools to operate.

The BLM’s study would include:

  • The number of occurrences in which drone incursions interfered with wildfire suppression, and the effect of each incursion on the length of time required to achieve complete suppression; the effectiveness of aerial firefighting responses; and the amounts expended by the federal government.

  • The feasibility and effectiveness of actions to prevent drone incursions, such as the use of reasonable force to disable, damage, or destroy a drone; the seizure of a drone, including seizure with a net device; and the dissemination of education materials relating to the effects of drone incursions on wildfire suppression.

The report would be provided to the House and Senate natural resources committees within 18 months of this bill’s enactment.

Impact

Drone incursions on wildfire suppression activities on DOI and USDA lands; and the BLM.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 5040

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. John Curtis (R-UT) introduced this bill to raise awareness of private drones interfering with aerial wildfire suppression activities and study ways to disable or seize drones that intrude on protected airspace:

“When wildfire breaks out, our brave firefighters need to protect lives and property. When unauthorized drones enter a wildfire area, firefighters must ground helicopters and their own drones — both critical components to wildland firefighting — until the drone is removed. This means that far too often valuable time and resources are spent removing civilian drones instead of containing and suppressing fire. That is why I am proud to introduce the Aerial Incursion Repercussion (AIR) Safety Act with my friend Mr. Huffman, to study how private drones flown near wildfire hinders suppression efforts and start looking at solutions that will help deter and remove unauthorized drones. I am confident this will spur a much needed discussion on the state of our forests and how we can better manage them to reduce the risk of fire and the damage they cause.”

Lead cosponsor Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) added:

“Wildfires have caused enormous devastation to families, businesses, and communities in my district. The idea that anyone would interfere with the heroic efforts of firefighters and other first responders is unthinkable. The AIR Safety Act is an important step in addressing the challenges and safety risks posed by unlawful drone interference and ensuring first responders are able to do their jobs and protect lives and homes.”

Greg Josten, President of the National Association of State Foresters, and a South Dakota State Forester, offered the following statement in support of this bill:

“We already know that flying personal drones where wildland firefighters are actively suppressing wildfires puts the civilian operator, their neighbors, and wildland firefighting personnel in danger. The slogan is true, and state forestry agencies know it all too well: If you fly, we can’t. Now, it’s time to quantify all the deleterious effects of drone incursions on wildfire fighting airspace. With hard numbers to support needed change, we’ll be better positioned to prevent costly delays and shutdowns and protect both property and lives.”

This legislation passed the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent.


Of NoteThe National Interagency Fire Center reported that as of September 21, 2020, there were at least 21 public drone incursions on wildfires this year, which caused aerial firefighting efforts to be shut down at least 16 times in 2020 at the following fires:

  • California: Apple Fire, Beach Fire, Colleen Fire, Fork Fire, San Bernardino National Forest, and the Valley Fire

  • Utah: Battle Creek Fire, Traverse Fire, and the Turkey Farm Fire

  • Arizona: Bighorn Fire and the Prescott National Forest Helispot

  • Colorado: Pike & Isabel National Forest and the Williams Fork Fire

  • Alaska: Crow Point Helispot

  • New Mexico: Valles Caldera National Park

  • North Carolina: Comp 38 Prescribed Fire

The NIFC reported that there have been at least 20 drone incursions each year dating back to 2015, with highs of 36 in 2017 and 41 in 2016.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: U.S. Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region / Public Domain)

AKA

AIR Safety Act of 2020

Official Title

AIR Safety Act of 2020, as amended

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed December 10th, 2020
    Roll Call Vote 382 Yea / 6 Nay
    IntroducedNovember 12th, 2019

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    No. What is there to study? If nimrods want to fly their drones into restricted airspace just shoot them down, spray foam over them to make them crash, microwave them to failure, jam their frequencies, use RF locators to find the operators and prosecute the assholes that would interfere with fire fighting operations. Do this loudly, with exemplary penalties and bounties for catching the operators, and they will stop. At least you could gain a new funding source for paying fire fighters and purchasing requisite equipment.
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    JimK, I agree. No need to study. Firefighters can tell you they get in the way. Destroy them & fine the owners. Put the monies toward those who heroically fight fires !
    Like (37)
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    I think I will bow to those here who are from the West Coast and anywhere else that is battling fires. But generally speaking, it seems silly to expend funds studying a problem that clearly has to do with holding violators accountable for violating regulations. If there are insufficient laws to use in holding violators accountable, make the necessary laws to hold them accountable. Budget: $0. Support: Bipartisan.
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    Where is Covid support? Who needs all this obscure busywork legislation?
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    If they interfere with firefighters, medical, or any other disaster response: SHOOT THEM DOWN. No study needed. If you can’t be responsible with your toys, you loose them.
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    I have to agree with JimK. It is already known that drones interfere with authorized flights. Another costly study isn’t needed! It’s not a good option to cease firefighting from the air because some idiot thinks it’s cool to fly his/her drone into a fire zone. Shoot the things down or otherwise destroy them and let the firefighters do their jobs! I know if my house burned down because of some idiot flying his drone I’d want some justice in that person held accountable!
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    We know exactly the repercussions of drones. What we need is a tracking system to identify the fools flying in restricted zones and prosecute them
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    How about studying this, the effects of coronavirus on the American people and the hardships that they see due to a lack of adequate response from the government.
    Like (15)
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    The only study that needs to be done is what is the best and most efficient way to identify the owner of the drone, and then how to most efficiently destroy it. Identifying ownership is important so that prosecution can occur. Efficient destruction in plain sight is even more important. Just get it done.
    Like (14)
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    Anyone caught flying drones in airspace during any kind of disaster needs to be arrested and charged with interference. We are currently suffering from lack of common sense in this country at the moment and it is going to take
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    No. The outcome of the proposed study is already known. The key words are "unauthorized drones" entering in these areas. Just take the next step and finalize the consequence if not already.
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    I hate drones. They give me the creeps. If private drones, meaning some idiot is getting in the way of something critical like putting out a fire, knock the damn thing out of the air and squash it! No studies needed.
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    Waste of Money and Waste of Precious time! I know there’s due process, but it’s seems more expeditious to simply get court orders to shoot down any and all drones interfering with Wildfire Suppression. Do a few public service announcements to warn the knuckleheads. Hire some snipers and be done with the menace. Shoot ’em down like in a Video Game. Should be easier than duck hunting. Just hope the drones don't fight back. Jeez, Louise!
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    Once again, ditto jimK. 😷
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    Let’s concentrate on getting the covid vaccine to most Americans
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    JimK I want you not to hold back, tell us what you really think :) lol. I totally agree, but Shouldn’t only shoot the drone down, they have missiles that can track back to the transmitter! This would make it a real short study.
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    Rep Luetkemeyer: If there had been already-restricted drone incursions on your property a known number of times which caused expense and serious problems, preventing you from protecting said property effectively, and there existed legal recourse measures; would you instigate an 18 month study to “raise” your awareness, or to learn how to disable and seize said drones? You could probably “google” that information. If it were coming out of YOUR pocket, wouldn’t you get cost estimates? Wouldn’t you want the cost estimates and name of the company with which you would be contracting for said study? Even if 6 of your neighbors didn’t think a study was needed, and 381 others did; would you still be willing to commit to paying an unknown company an unknown amount - especially if you knew your Uncle Sam was NOT going to foot the bill? Seriously, Concerned constituent
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    To ‘study’ is stupid. You know already the result of such incursions. Foam them out of the air, then Fine the owner.
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    Ya need a "Study" for this? What dimwit is asking for monies for this?
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    I don't know what the laws are elsewhere but where I am you need a permit to own a drone and fly it.
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