CALIFORNIA—Legislators have introduced a bill that would provide an emergency responder with immunity if they damage a drone while performing their duties.
Senator Ted Gaines with co-author Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced Bill 168 on Monday, July 20. They have also written Bill 167 and 170 both of which involve drone activity.
Bill 167 was introduced in February 2015, and places a fine of $200 to $2000 on drone activity that interferes with firefighters and ambulances. If an individual knowingly interferes with emergency responders, they may be jailed for 6 months or receive a $5000 fine, or both. This bill is still being processed by the committee.
Bill 170 prohibits people from operating an unmanned aircraft above a state prison. This does not apply to prison employers who may be required to use unmanned aircrafts in the prison. This bill was also introduced in February, and was passed by the committee on July 14.
Bill 168 comes in time for the recent fire in the Cajon Pass. On July 17, a massive wildfire at the Cajon Pass damaged homes and spread to Interstate 15. Dozens of vehicles were incinerated. For such large fires, often aircraft firefighters are used, but due to presence of drones the aircraft was delayed.
According to The Press Enterprise, Glen E. Winn, an aviation safety expert, indicates that drones are dangerous because if they get trapped in a propeller they can cause an aircraft to crash.
Senator Ted Gaines represents the first senate district, which encompasses 11 counties of Northern California, including Sacramento. Assemblyman Mike Gatto represents District 43, which includes Los Feliz, Hollywood Hills, East Hollywood, and Burbank.