Fire fighters call for no-drone zone around bushfires

UAVs can take down water-spaffing 'copters, so firies want them to butt out

Australia faces another serious bush fire season and authorities have warned that fire-fighting helicopters may have to be grounded if drone-owners can't resist the temptation to fly over fire-grounds.

ABC News is reporting that the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has asked amateur drone operators to stay away from fires.

Last year, posts from drone owners on YouTube led to a similar warning, with at least four serious incursions of hobby drones into bushfire areas.

RFS superintendent Anthony Ferguson says helicopters are vital not only as water bombers, but the situational awareness that supports ground-based operations.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) noted that drones are solid enough to bring a chopper down, and its spokesman Peter Gibson told the ABC a drone is solid enough to damage a chopper. Given that fire-fighting pilots are working in low-visibility and often high-wind conditions, “it's almost impossible for a fire-fighting pilot to see a drone in the air”.

Aerial firefighters have asked CASA to help create a five-nautical-mile exclusion zone around a bushfire. ®

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