LAFD Urges Greater Fire Safety as Drone Usage Increases

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


LAFD Urges Greater Fire Safety as Drone Usage Increases

Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Chief Ralph M. Terrazas, with city, state and federal leaders urged greater fire safety today in the face of an increasing number of drones. Chief Terrazas was joined by Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28), State Assemblymember Mike Gatto, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmember Mitch Englander.

“The growth of Unmanned Aircraft Systems - otherwise known as drones – has caused a host of unintended consequences for firefighters, potentially putting lives in danger,” LAFD Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said. “Drones, no matter how small, threaten the lives of firefighters and put in jeopardy our ability to fight fires with all of the tools at our disposal; most critically our aerial firefighting fleet. Before anyone even considers launching a drone in firefighting areas, please remember: If you fly, we can't.”

Rep. Schiff is exploring all avenues to address this problem and wrote recently to the Federal Aviation Administration on how best to "prohibit this dangerous and irresponsible use of civilian drones, which have already endangered the lives of civilians and firefighters."  

“The rapid growth of civilian drones has raised a host of privacy and safety issues, including the danger posed by piloting drones near wildfires,” Rep. Adam Schiff said. “I have urged the FAA to evaluate and test technological solutions that prevent drones from interfering with public safety and I look forward to continuing to work in Congress to address this important issue. Ultimately, operators of drones need to act responsibly and understand that flying near a wildfire creates a danger to the lives of firefighters and pilots.  Moreover, in fighting a wildfire, time is of the essence and any delay occasioned by drone interference can have devastating consequences.”

Council President Wesson and Councilmember Englander last week introduced a motion directing city agencies to responsibly regulate the use of drones.

"While I support the advancement of technology and believe drones can be a great tool when used properly, I am taking steps to ensure their use does not adversely affect the lifesaving actions taken by the Los Angeles Fire Department and others during emergency situations," said L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson. "Our proposal is a proactive measure that will responsibly regulate drone usage within city limits and better protect the public."

"Drones are becoming increasing popular. Drones aren't the problem, but their operators can be. When they jeopardize public safety, they need to be regulated," said Councilmember Englander, Chair of Public Safety Committee. "It's vital to put policies in place to prevent interference with firefighting efforts and other public safety activities."

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