Posted in: Tattle, Technology

‘A risk to firefighters’: Trump’s drone ban makes it harder to stop wildfires

Insiders at the interior department say a drone shortage has made it more difficult to contain the fires raging across the US

As wildfires grow in size and frequency, more resources are needed to keep them in check. But experts say a Trump administration directive halting the purchase of new drones jeopardizes the rise of cutting-edge technology, curtailing the ability to manage wildfires and potentially putting more lives in danger.

In October 2019, the US Department of the Interior grounded its fleet of more than 800 drones and put a freeze on buying new ones due to concerns of Chinese spying. Many of the devices were used in wildfire fighting and prevention, including starting prescribed burns, a key tool in controlling wildfire. The interior department carries out more than 10,000 drone flights a year on average, according to federal documents.

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