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| Friday, Aug 7, 2015
DroneDonMcCullough
Photo: Don McCullough

[KHTS] – Firefighters have had to ground aircraft while battling brush fires, and Santa Clarita Valley residents have reported invasion of privacy, both causing an uproar against drones.

The city of Santa Clarita’s municipal code states in section 14.06.210 E,  “No person shall operate in any park any model airplane, boat, car, craft, or other similar device that is powered by an internal combustion engine, remote control, or other similar or electrical power source, except in an area and at such times as designated for such use by the director (of parks, recreation and community service).”

“The code was adopted some time ago, but those types of devices, just like a golf ball or anything that’s thrown, could hit a park user,” said Rick Gould, director of parks, recreation and community service for Santa Clarita, in a previous interview.

The FAA has placed temporary flight restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems around wildfires, which means the unmanned aircraft should not fly there without agency approval, said spokesman Ian Gregor, in an interview with CNN.

Over the past couple weeks, five drones at different wildfires in California have prevented firefighters from using helicopters and other aircraft to fight fires, according to CNN.

“As far as the FAA is concerned, a drone is basically defined as any four propeller or more with a GPS,” said Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Deputy Kevin Duxbury. “You can actually buy these from a local hobby store. They range anywhere from $400 to thousands of dollars, depending on what you want to invest in.

“You can mount cameras to them and this is where the issues start to come in, a lot of people are complaining about invasion of privacy issues and things like that.”

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies recommend contacting the station at 661-255-1121 to report illegal drone activity or if there is an unwanted drone flying over your home.

dronesHere are some tips and regulations when flying drones, according to the Federal Aviation Administration:

* Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles

* Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times

* Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations

* Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying

* Don’t fly near people or stadiums

* Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs

* Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft

Civil fines can range from $1,000 to $25,000 if a drone is operated in a dangerous manner or the person continues to operate a drone illegally after being contacted by the FAA, Gregor said, in an interview with CNN.

The FAA has partnered with the Know Before You Fly, an education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), according to the website.

For more information about how to use drones safely and legally, visit the website.

An area at Castaic Lake is also reserved for unmanned aircraft systems.

Two pieces of legislation are also in the works, which representatives hope will help protect firefighters and residents.

“Drone operators are risking lives when they fly over an emergency situation.  Just because you have access to an expensive toy that can fly in a dangerous area doesn’t mean you should do it,” said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, chair of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection.  “The legislature needs to send a signal that our society simply won’t put up with this nonsense.  It’s very frustrating to see drone operators once again disrupt firefighting efforts in the Cajon Pass.”

Senate Bills 167 and 168, written by Gatto and Senator Ted Gaines, increases fines and introduces the possibility of jail time for drone use that interferes with firefighting efforts as well as granting immunity to any emergency responder who damages an unmanned aircraft in the course of firefighting, air ambulance, or search-and-rescue operations, according to a news release.

“People can replace drones, but we can’t replace a life,” said Gaines. “When our rescuers are risking their own lives to protect us, I want them thinking about safety, not liability.”

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38 Comments

  1. Greg Brown Greg Brown says:

    Shoot them down and save a life or a home. Or more!

    • Eric Baker Eric Baker says:

      Shoot it, it catches fire and lights another house on fire.. Good idea!!!!

    • Greg Brown Greg Brown says:

      Wrong Eric Baker. It drops right on the fire it was video taping and burns in the shrubbery allowing Firefighters in airplanes to do their job more efficiently.
      Go play with yours in MojaveDesert. Don’t forget your water.

    • Eric Baker Eric Baker says:

      I agree with not flying them in the middle of a firefight, but you saying to shoot them, that causes the lipo to explode, which could create a fire wherever it may be. I know exactly what i’m talking about.

    • Greg Brown Greg Brown says:

      LA Co. sharpshooters have pretty good aim. Keep your toys away.

    • Eric Baker Eric Baker says:

      I’m not the problem..You need not be hostile towards me. The impact alone from the crash can also cause them to explode. Happened yesterday in Van Nuys in fact.

    • Greg Brown Greg Brown says:

      More reason to keep them away from property and fires. Good night. Peace.

    • Eric Baker Eric Baker says:

      I agree 100%. A few idiots out there make all the good modelers look bad with this behavior. I do my flying in Van Nuys at the model park. Sadly, these idiots have more money than brains. Taints the hobby for the rest of us…

    • If any morons actually try and shoot one down, and they miss – where do you suppose that bullet will come down?

    • Greg Brown Greg Brown says:

      Have you seen America Sniper Jared? 1000 yard + confirmed kill.
      Hey! How about a 12ga shot towards brushfires?

    • Mike Morgan Mike Morgan says:

      Pellets Jared, shotguns Jared!

    • If there is a fire and we have Men and Women fighting it AND have a Plane or Helicopter in the air to fight it, you people flying the Drones should have the curtesy to let them do their job and not put them in harms way!!!! WTF is wrong with people these days?

    • Yes, and how many live here that are snipers, very few if any. The problem with the drones Jared, is some of them can fly high. Certain model helicopters have a specific intake system, not just the dual rotor blades (vertical and horizontal ). Drone gets sucked in or hits the rotor blades can cause a helo to go down. The aircraft used, a drone can easily get sucked into the system and if it is a prop plane, same thing.

    • No argument that drones have no business near a fire, or hovering outside someone’s home. Screw that. But shooting it down? Moronic. And comparing a gun owner in the SCV to the gent in “American Sniper”? Yeah. Right. That’s like saying y’all are as smart as Einstein, as pretty as a supermodel, and as skilled as a heart surgeon.

    • Greg Brown Greg Brown says:

      Jared Gardner, again I repeat, an LA Co sharpshooter. Not “Joe Citizen”. Sheesh.

    • Greg Brown Greg Brown says:

      SHERRIF FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. I’M DONE.

  2. Mike Morgan Mike Morgan says:

    Who do they belong to, gotta shoot ’em down, might belong to terrorists…

  3. More fun than shooting birds!!

  4. Great idea. Shoot off a gun into the air. What happens if you “freedom fighters” miss? Wonder where the bullet lands?

  5. i shot like 5 of ’em already…..

  6. Can someone tell me how they are interfering with fire fighting aircraft ? Are they up as high as the water dropping helicopter? Why can’t the helicopter just drop its water and “oops the drone was in the way.. Oh well”

  7. David Potter David Potter says:

    Strap a gun on it, and demand your 2nd ammendment rights.

  8. David Potter David Potter says:

    Honestly, a signal jammer on the alotted drone frequencies would make them land or return to launch point.

  9. John Gilbert John Gilbert says:

    That story droned on and on…

  10. Andy Ryan Andy Ryan says:

    Let’s jam them out of the sky. As a drone owner/operator, I believe in lawful and safe flying. Anyone flying a UAV over a wildfire does not deserve the privilege to fly one at all. It’s a continuous problem. They often fly at similar elevations as the helicopters or super scoopers, which makes them more than “a piece of plastic in the sky”. It makes them shrapnel that can do things like crack windshields on aircraft. If the fire is on BLM land, I say that citizens under the second amendment should be allowed to shoot them out of the sky. Otherwise, they should be jammed (these things use standard 2.4 ghz/5.8 ghz WIFI). This will disable them from the pilot’s controller and they will hover until they run out of battery (these things have like… 20 min batteries).

  11. Fear Of A Drone Planet.

  12. Fear Of A Drone Planet.

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