As legislation continues to move swiftly through the Florida Legislature to allow increased governmental use of drones, Florida’s fire chiefs are seeking to get on board.
On Tuesday the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee took up, and swiftly approved, HB 659, which would allow use of drones by Florida wildlife and forestry officials for two purposes: to monitor invasive species encroachment on public lands, and to help manage and fight wildfires.
The latter purpose came by way of an amendment introduced and tacked on Tuesday. The provision is identical to one added to the Senate counterpart of the bill in a Senate committee hearing on Monday.
At both stops, the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association spoke up with an “us too” request, citing the same rationales for drones’ use in structure fires that had been cited for the wildfires amendment: that the aerial camera devices could help firefighters understand what is going on with the fires, and that the drones could help improve safety for firefighters at the scene.