State fire officials believe it will be an active wildfire season this summer and they are warning people with drones to stay away.
The whirring of a small radio controlled quadcopter, better known as a drone, taking off is a sound that state and national fire officials don’t like hearing. Jason Curry is a spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands.
“Policy is on wildfire, when a drone is spotted we have to ground all of our aerial operations immediately until that situation is resolved," Curry says. "The message is, if you fly, then that means we can’t.”
Recently, the problem has only gotten worse as drone technology becomes cheaper and easier for regular people to buy. The National Interagency Fire Center is worried about it enough they they’ve even launched a 30 second Public Service Announcement.
Ryan Wood is the marketing manager of Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems. They sell and service drones for both recreational and commercial use. He says they’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people who are using drones, and when they buy from his shop, he does his best to educate them on the law.
“Basically, if you adhere to those rules, stay away from restricted air space, and stay away from crowded areas, and really using that term the common sense," he says. "If you think to yourself, I probably shouldn’t be flying here, you shouldn’t be flying there.”
The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the use of drones, even for recreational purposes. To help those new to the hobby, they’ve set up an informational website that can be found at knowbeforeyoufly.org.