Press Releases


June 26, 2015
Contact: Macey Matthews
Phone: 202-225-9888

Sinema Introduces Legislation to Protect Arizona Firefighters, Keep Arizona Families Safe

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50) introduced bipartisan legislation to leverage innovative technologies for Arizona firefighters, reducing risks for first responders and improving the effectiveness of wildfire fighting strategies.

The Protecting Firefighters and Promoting Innovation Act (H.R. 2909) establishes an interagency working group to develop best practices for integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technologies into wildland firefighting efforts. While no substitute for adequate funding and training, Unmanned Aircraft Systems can complement existing firefighting capabilities by improving coordination through real-time updates, delivering countermeasures in remote and inaccessible areas, and reducing the exposure and risk to first responders.

“Arizonans are too familiar with the devastating effects wildfires have on our communities,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “Two years ago, the Yarnell Hill Fire claimed the lives of 19 Arizona hotshots. These heroes put everything on the line to protect our neighbors and families, and it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to prevent future tragedies.”

“When a wildfire breaks out, Arizona’s fire districts are on the front lines, working to keep our communities safe,” said Mary Dalton, President of the Arizona Fire District Association. “Integrating new technology can lower the risks for Arizona first responders and help fight wildfires faster and more effectively. We applaud Congresswoman Sinema for her leadership in bringing both parties together around this commonsense solution.”

"Firefighting is a dangerous job that is critical to the protection of life and property, and incorporating UAS into the firefighting process will improve firefighter safety and decrease the potential for injuries and casualties,” said Brian Wynne, President and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. “Many first responders are realizing the potential of UAS technologies – including applications that may support battling the more than 60,000 wildland fires in the U.S. each year. This legislation is a critical step toward allowing UAS to be used as an essential tool in these all too common occurrences.”

The working group will be led by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) and include representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Guard.

The group will also consult outside stakeholders and experts to ensure that any proposal is fiscally responsible, leverages existing federal resources where applicable, protects civil liberties, and includes state and local agencies in the process.