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FAA Emails Drone Users: Stay Away From Wildfires!

Date: 2016-07-03
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Expanded from a story by Bill Gabbert at Wildfire Today

Within the last ten days, several instances of drones flying near wildfires have obligated firefighting aircraft to cease operations, grounding them sometimes for hours.  This has been an ongoing concern of local incident managers and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials alike.

Drone image via FAA website

On June 29, the FAA distributed a mass email notice to individuals who have registered their drones with the agency, warning them that “drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 and possible criminal prosecution.”

The email notification comes the day after Cal Fire was forced to ground firefighter aircraft due airspace interference from drones, prompting a Facebook post from the California State Firefighters’ Association on the 29th:

(Trailhead Fire image from CSFA's Facebook post is shared from

Read the FAA’s email notification below:

See also: NWCG issues protocol for incursions of drones over fires, establishes procedure to follow if a drone is seen at a fire (April 14, 2016) - at


NWCG Unmanned Aircraft System Incursion Protocol for Wildland Firefighters (pdf flow chart)

For more information about FAA regulations on drone usage, see

- People, Places & Things/ (via Wildfire Today, 6/30/16)


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