Personal drones getting in way of Arizona firefighters

Jun 10, 2019, 2:30 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2019, 12:17 pm

(Pixabay Photo)...

(Pixabay Photo)

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona officials are begging drone owners to keep their flying cameras away from wildfire scenes, as the devices are getting in firefighters’ way.

“We all should be incredibly concerned, because the impact that these drones are having on fire operations is putting a delay in some of the responses,” Brad Pitassi, deputy chief of the City of Maricopa Fire Department, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce & Pamela on Monday.

“And some of those ramifications can be not only deadly, but it can cause tremendous impacts on the community that our firefighters are out there on the ground trying to protect and save.”

In a tweet Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey said five firefighting aviation operations have been grounded because of drones.

“Flying drones over or near wildfires is irresponsible, dangerous and illegal. DON’T DO IT,” the tweet said.

“It prevents first responders from putting out fires and puts people and pets in danger.”

Pitassi said it’s not very difficult to identify the owner of a drone.

“Some of the staff have actually followed that drone to the operator, and had law enforcement involved,” he said.

“As more sophisticated these drones become, and as more brazen these drone operators are when they’re flying over our fires, everything is just ramping up a little bit.”

Pitassi said the instances of drones distracting firefighters and first responders in other incidents like car crashes are becoming more frequent.

“It’s just a tragedy waiting to happen,” he said.

On the flip side, drones operated by fire departments themselves have proven useful in fighting wildfires.

One of the devices was used against the Maroon Fire in the Coconino National Forest earlier this month, helping to contain part of the 7,000-acre blaze started by a lightning strike.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(City of Buckeye Facebook Photo)...

Tom Kuebel

Buckeye celebrates groundbreaking of 444-unit residential community near downtown

Buckeye celebrated the groundbreaking of a 444-unit residential community near downtown.

7 hours ago

FILE - Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs delivers her State of the State address at the Arizona C...

Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs didn’t step down this week. So what happened?

Arizona’s governor was out of the state for a day this week, prompting false claims that she’d abruptly resigned or vanished entirely.

8 hours ago

Patrons are warned about the heat at the Desert Botanical Garden entrance, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023,...

Associated Press

Heat-related deaths continue to rise even as the calendar turns to October

Confirmed heat-associated deaths in Arizona’s most populous county continue rising even as the weather turns cooler.

9 hours ago

picture of end of roll of caution tape...

Tucson woman sentenced to 20 years after running woman over multiple times

Yvette Naomi Garcia was sentenced to 20 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Friday.

10 hours ago

(Trevor's Liquor photo)...

Wills Rice

Trevor’s Liquor to open 4th location in late 2024 at Paradise Valley Mall

Trevor's Liquor announced it will be opening its fourth location in late 2024 in the Paradise Valley Mall redevelopment.

11 hours ago

Medical school students...

Brandon Gray

Gov. Katie Hobbs announces $11M investment in to state’s health care workforce

Gov. Katie Hobbs announced Friday the state will invest $11 million into the Arizona Board of Regents' AZ Healthy Tomorrow Initiative. 

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

Personal drones getting in way of Arizona firefighters