With more than 120 wildfires burning across 1.6 million acres in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a public reminder that warns drone pilots to refrain from flying over or near fires. FAA Acting Administrator Daniel K. Elwell also uploaded a video explaining the impacts of unauthorized drone flights near wildfires:
Why are drone flights near wildfires illegal?
As a drone pilot, capturing a unique aerial shot like a burning forest fire is naturally tempting, but the presence of UAVs while firefighters are battling wildfires have resulted in grounded helicopters because of safety concerns. Due to protocol, firefighters are forced to cease potential life-saving operations because of unauthorized drone flights. Firefighters can lose minutes or even hours over drone flights that first need to be sorted out before operations can resume.
Screenshot from the FAA’s post on Twitter.
The FAA said, “The U.S. Department of the Interior’s regulation 43 CFR 9212.1(f) (PDF) states that it is illegal to resist or interfere with the efforts of firefighter(s) to extinguish a fire. Doing so can result in a significant fine and/or a mandatory court appearance.”