250 News - Your News, Your Views, Now

October 28, 2017 2:40 am

Province looks to enhance drone rules

Friday, September 4, 2015 @ 12:36 PM


P.G. Fire Centre Manager Les Husband and MLA Mike Morris – photo 250News

Prince George, B.C. –  During the height of  wildfire fighting in B.C.  there were two instances when  air support had to be grounded because  someone was  flying a drone in the area.  Prince George -Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris   has been tasked with  trying to find  ways to  make sure that doesn’t happen again.

In one incident this summer, on August 16th ,   eight  helicopters and five fixed wing aircraft that were supporting  firefighting crews on the ground,  had  to  be grounded for more than four  hours because  someone was flying a drone in the area.  “The pilots that are flying the helicopters and the fixed wing aircraft  are already in very dangerous situations and it makes it a lot more dangerous when there are unmanned aerial vehicles  that  are flying in these areas” says Morris””.  “Pilots should not have to deal with that,  and the men and women  who are working on the ground and count on that air support should not have to deal with that,  They are in life and death situations as it is, and the  possibility  that one particular aircraft is prevented from  doing something, could  risk the lives of the men and women on the ground and that is something very serious.”

Transport Canada is investigating the August 16th incident.

Morris has been looking at the Wildfire Act and see what  could be changed to “address the  issues a little more rigorously than we currently   can.”   Morris says that review is proceeding  quite well and he  expects to have  it completed this fall.

Drone   use is covered by federal regulations but Morris  says all  drone operators  need to be aware of the rules that govern them and the severe consequences for not  following  the rules.

Federal regulations explicitly restrict the use of  drones  near wildfires.  All wildfires are automatically considered to be flight restricted zones  according to the  Federal Canadian Aviation regulations.  That restriction is within 5 nautical miles of a fire, and   to an altitude of 3,000 feet above  ground level.  The current maximum fine for an infraction is $25 thousand dollars and up to  18 months in jail.

“The B.C. Government’s message to these people ( drone operators) is really simple” says Morris “The presence of a drone near an active wildfire is illegal, and   we have a  zero tolerance policy towards people who engage in this sort of activity.”

Morris says  the message  also has  to be  sent to boaters who try to get a close up look at air tankers and choppers that are trying to scoop up water  from lakes near active wildfires. “This is extremely dangerous and interferes with the BC Wildfire Service  ability  to  battle wildfires since an air tanker pilot cannot  refill the air crafts tanks when a  boat in the flight path.”

The Province will  be exploring heavy penalties for boaters wo intentionally or unintentionally  interferes with wildfire  responses.

The Province  has a four point plan to  stop the illegal and dangerous use of drones  with  tough new rules  and a  public awareness campaign.

  1. review existing enforcement provisions under Transport Canada regulations, the Wildfire Act and other Provincial Legislation
  2. explore legislative and regulatory  changes  to strengthen existing provisions and penalties  under provincial  legislation in the spring of 2016.
  3. Launch a  public awareness campaign directed at stores  that sell unmanned aerial vehicles  to inform drone buyers of their legal obligations
  4. transport  Canada is currently reviewing its legislative requirements  related to drone   use.

Morris says the Province has made a submission to the Federal Government that advocates for  stronger regulations addressing  a number of key themes, including the safe operations of drones,  personal  privacy, registration of drones, certification of  all drone operators and public awareness.

“We would like to see stiffer penalties applied   where regulations governing the use  of drones have been violated.”

Morris says the Province is working closely with the Federal government on this issue and is  encouraging the Federal government to accelerate this work.





Have someone in the area with a shotgun full of slugs or double oo buckshot and shoot them out of the sky

I fully support laws that regulate the use of drones there are a lot of responsible drone pilots but there are a lot more who have no or little understanding of the laws or just plain don’t care. Just because they are on the ground piloting an unmanned aircraft does not exempt them from VFR rules that pilots of manned aircraft must obey

Well there you have it, Mike Morris doing his bit for the community and a photo op. who said you cant fid mike with a looking glass.

If hunters are using drones to spot animals, I wonder how many other hunters will get a lot of target practice?
Good on yuh Mike, keep yer nose to the grindstone, I want a big bang for my taxpayer dollars, LOL

But we still have to turn off our cell phones for take off, and landings.. lol

LJ: What does cell phone use on airplanes have to do with use of drones over forest fires – that clearly compromises the safety of pilots and firefighters. I am truly baffled!
Best wishes to Mike Morris and his team in addressing this issue.

As stated earlier in the thread, I agree that in an emergency, if a drone is in the air and in the way shoot it down…period.

Next step: New professional positions on the fire lines – Sharp Shooters. An interesting option.

What kind of genius suggests shooting at r/c aircraft? You would just be creating a dangerous situation, secondly that’s someone’s private property. Lastly, most of these “drones” use Lipo batteries that when damaged can bust into flames.

NASA uses drones to map wildfires/forest fires as do forestry professionals and GIS professionals.

In fact, drones, when used by those who are part of the wildfire fighting team, will become more and more of a tool in the fighting of wildfires, especially from the point of view of getting more accurate data about the progress of a fire and the effectiveness of suppression strategies more quickly into the decision making process.

So, “If you’re in the sky, we can’t fly” is not quite true. In fact, if properly used, the say could easily become – “If you’re in the sky, it’s safer to fly”.

Federal regulations explicitly restrict the use of drones near wildfires. All wildfires are automatically considered to be flight restricted zones according to the Federal Canadian Aviation regulations. That restriction is within 5 nautical miles of a fire, and to an altitude of 3,000 feet above ground level. The current maximum fine for an infraction is $25 thousand dollars and up to 18 months in jail.


I say shoot them down and then levy the fine ;)

Next step: New professional positions on the fire lines – Drone pilots. An interesting option.

So, “If you’re in the sky, we can’t fly” is not quite true. In fact, if properly used, the say could easily become – “If you’re in the sky, it’s safer to fly”


I suppose it all depends who is piloting the said drone, someone who knows what they are doing and is helping to support the fire fighting operation, or, an amateur thrill seeker looking to get cool video that he can upload on Youtube :)

That is right, exactly!!

I find it is a dangerous saying. It implies all drone usage is bad. Gawkers are also not supposed to be in the way of fire fighting operations. It can be a danger to them as well as the people who are working to put the fire out. A wildfire no trespass zone is not only in the sky, it is also on the ground.

With a negative image of drones, or anything that has both positive and negative uses, one is influenced in their ability to think constructively about drones, for instance.


from that article:

Accessing new technology in rural areas where forest fires rage has been a challenge, but the use of new unmanned drones could drastically change the nature of the fight.

“We can get more information for less cost, and it doesn’t put anyone in harm’s way,” said Sher Schranz, a project manager at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who researches fire weather modeling.

Fighting wildfires is a tricky game, since the direction and intensity of the massive blazes can change in seconds. Drones can help in two ways: They can safely gather more information about fire conditions than is currently available, and they can send that information to firefighters on the ground quickly.

Find me: Hunters will shoot these drones, and really, in Sept Oct, the risk of fire in this area is pretty low. And I really don’t have a problem with that! LOL
If they are on my rural property, They are fair game. But, of course, that’s just my opinion.

Ohhh THAT is Mike Morris????? The politcian that doesn’t want to deal with people from other ridings??? Even though they LIVE in the SAME town???

Grizzly, if you shoot at “drones” you better have a lawyer. Regardless of where it is that is illegal.

looks like a duck

Findme: Drone pilots (I am looking at the idiots here, not those who follow regulations) who have there priceless drone shot down due to illegal flight or flight in restricted areas had better have some good lawyers. Best be able to prove who shot you down and have the funds to prove in court that you were within your legal rights to violate flight regulations. Chances are very good that will never happen.

So I say blast away if it’s in the way, deal with the “non-issue” later. There comes a point in time when logic needs to ring through the stupidity of “poor me” you shot down my drone. Seriously think about it, we still had idiots starting camp fires where full burn bans were in effect and no enforcement.

Comments for this article are closed.