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Jerry Brown Lets Emergency Responders Take out Drones

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that will allow the state’s emergency responders to take out civilian drones without fear of civil liability for the damage that results.

Senate Bill 807, introduced by State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado), provides: “An emergency responder shall not be liable for any damage to an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system, if that damage was caused while the emergency responder was providing, and the unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system was interfering with, the operation, support, or enabling of the emergency services…”. The bill defines “emergency services” as:

(a) Emergency medical services or ambulance transport services, including, but not limited to, air ambulance services.
(b) Firefighting or firefighting-related services, including, but not limited to, air services related to firefighting or firefighting-related services.
(c) Search and rescue services, including, but not limited to, air search and rescue services.
The bill was seen by many in the state as increasingly necessary, given the frequent interference of drones with firefighting efforts as the state has battled wildfires in recent years. Earlier this year, for example, an aircraft loaded with over 10,000 gallons of fire retardant and headed for a wildfire in the San Bernardino Forest had to turn back because a drone was spotted in the area that could have placed the plane and its crew in danger.
In a statement thanking Gov. Brown, Sen. Gaines said:
Wildfires continue to ravage our state and we can’t have drones or anything else getting in the way of the first-class emergency response we get from all of our firefighters and public safety officers. These are life-and-death situations where a single delay can lead to tragedy. Let’s keep drones away to protect people and property … I want everyone to know that interfering with firefighting or other emergency activities is reckless and wrong. Let’s get the word out as far and wide as we can – immediately – to help keep our people and emergency personnel safe. … People can replace drones, but we can’t replace a life. Public safety should be our absolute number one priority.
The San Jose Mercury News notes that drones have been spotted increasingly over wildfires in the U.S. It is possible other states will consider similar measures to indemnify emergency responders and clarify responsibility for damage to drones.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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