Watch as firefighters attempt to blast a drone out of the sky

By Shawn Knight ยท 44 replies
Jun 12, 2015
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  1. Firefighters from upstate New York were recently working to put out a house fire when they noticed something swirling in the air above the carnage. That something was a drone piloted by local John Thompson which didn’t seem to be much of a bother when it kept its distance.

    When Thompson moved in for a closer view near the 12 minute mark, however, firefighters decided they’d had enough of the aerial nuisance and turned their powerful hoses towards the sky.

    The first blast was a direct hit but surprisingly didn’t manage to knock the drone from the sky. After another close brush with danger, the pilot decided it was time to head to safety.

    Thompson, who claims he’s a former firefighter himself, told Inside Edition that he was recording the event to put on firefighter websites. He told News 12 Hudson Valley that the drone was damaged and wants the fire department to pay to have it replaced.

    Do you believe firefighters were justified in their actions? Was Thompson violating any laws? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

    Found is a TechSpot feature where we share clever, funny or otherwise interesting stuff from around the web.

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  2. deemon

    deemon TS Addict Posts: 253   +70

    Shooting down rogue drones IMHO is free for all.
  3. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,080

    That was pretty cool watching the fire fighters in action. Hopefully They didn't mind the drone too much and were just having fun with it.
  4. deemon

    deemon TS Addict Posts: 253   +70

    And quote from EVE online - Don't fly what you can't afford to lose.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,329   +1,977

    If the fellow was going to provide the footage to the firemen, why wouldn't he get their permission first? The law says that a "news making event" is free from censure, which is what gives photographers the right to stand on public ground and snap away so perhaps the law should be extended the the skies above public space ONLY? I must admit that the photographs from drones often greatly enhance news stores and there's a LOT of good in them, but due to others that don't seem to respect privacy laws I'm afraid it may well ruin it for everybody else. As far as paying for the damage, sorry but he's taking a risk and should be prepared to pay for the consequences ..... Personally, well placed 12 gauge from a neighbor could have taken care of the situation rather quickly .... eh?
  6. learninmypc

    learninmypc TS Evangelist Posts: 7,670   +413

    It all depends on what the laws of the area say. Cool video thou
  7. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,304   +648

    First of all, this IS NOT a drone. It is a remote control vehicle (RC). These *****s pull these things out of a box, charge them up, and voila! I am a pilot! They don't understand the first thing about flying, they don't know how to control it if it is flying towards or away from you, flying in a cross wind, flying it over populated areas and the like. RC pilots, responsible ones, fly their vehicles at dedicated "air parks" built for such things, or in open fields AWAY from people, but, OVERFLYING a group of firefighters? I wish they had brought it down with the water hose. News choppers appear to overfly news events, but they don't. They use the ZOOM on the camera and it appears to fly directly over some event. Hope this kid is tracked down by the fire department and at least, given a good talking to.
    These "drones" are like a mosquito that you have to swat to get rid of. Unfortunately, they are going to screw up a lot of peoples hobby. Won't be long that any remote control vehicle like this, planes, helicopters and the like will require liability insurance, government licenses and other crap. All because a bunch of dimwits don't know the first thing about responsibility.
  8. There's something so ***** about filming a fire with a drone, kinda like "I want to experience all of the action firemen go thru but with none of the danger"
    mizkitty and p51d007 like this.
  9. People like this are ruining it for everyone else. It should be common sense not to fly over or into a fire or accident. Children of today are going to have a much more restricted future in RC hobbies because of dumb people like this. You should only fly if your far away from people and vehicles. How hard is that to remember.
    p51d007 likes this.
  10. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    If you're going to fly a UAV around a bunch of working men on someone else's property, you assume the risk of being shot out of the sky. Nobody wants an RC toy buzzing around their worksite.

    If the story is true, the pilot should have cleared it with the FD first. In addition to being a pest, a UAV free roaming an active fire is an unnecessary hazard to the firefighters.
    distantreality and Capaill like this.
  11. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    As much as I agree with the principle, I can't help but feel the SAFTY FIRST crowd would see such a dangerous and unruly individual slapped with enough fines and public endangerment charges to make at least three law offices giddy with anticipation. This is not to mention the subsequent confiscation of said firearm.
  12. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 452   +180

    I have no problem with the firemen trying to get rid of the drone. Fighting fire is a dangerous job that needs concentration, it can turn on you very fast and can take lives. Maybe the drone was distracting them from doing their job and that can't be tolerated. Or maybe the sound of it hovering above them was making communication hard between the firefighters. Either way, there was no good reason for it to be going in so close. That's what a zoom lens is for. Or get their permission first but they should still have the right to neutralize it if they feel it's affecting their job.

    They had no way of knowing what the purpose of the drone was for. Maybe it was someone looking to find a fireman making a mistake so they could sue the Fire Department. Maybe it was someone looking to take a video of a dead body so he could post it online. And doesn't the home owner have some expectation of privacy and would rather not have someone videoing their home and posting it online?

    I think the drone operator crossed too many lines and shouldn't get any compensation. Saying he's a former firefighter doesn't help his case at all.
  13. mizkitty

    mizkitty TS Enthusiast Posts: 44   +11

    I headed over to YouTube to add my "thumbs down" to the avalanche...

    This seems to be his first video...except for the "un-boxing" video from a couple months ago...
  14. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,663   +1,949

    This won't get regulated. Drones will appear with better manoeuvrability and untraceable signal.
  15. Kevin82485

    Kevin82485 TS Booster Posts: 168   +45

    If you're a firefighter and are not expecting your next fire call to be filmed by a drone, this could be rather distracting and potentially a safety risk. If the guy with the drone would have cleared it with the fire dept. first and allowed them to set some rules and guideline, then I think it would have been ok for the purposes of what he said he intended to do with the video. With how it went down, tough **** man, your drone got broke and only you are responsible for it. Shouldn't have been flying it there without approval.
  16. Billy Vinson

    Billy Vinson TS Enthusiast Posts: 46   +32

    THE FIRE DEPARTMENT DAMAGED HIS PROPERTY - They should PAY FOR IT! You don't just shoot someone's car, do you? No... You damage someone's ****, you pay... UNLESS It is self defense, and this drone wasn't attacking! Yes, they should pay!

    Moderator note: Billy, ease up on the shouting please.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2015
  17. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,889   +1,223

    As much I think having a camera floating overhead would be a huge annoyance, the only precedent I can think of is when the paparazzi gets a camera damaged by someone being photographed. In those cases the person doing the damage is liable.

    I would say I have to agree with you, the fire department should pay. Even though we all like firefighters and we all wish people with cameras in other people's business would fall down a flight of stairs while being filmed by someone as nosy as they are.

    There currently aren't laws stating if the space ABOVE your property is also your property, but in this case it doesn't matter. The space about that home was NOT the personal property of the firefighters who did the damage. If the homeowner had sprayed the drone it might be a different discussion.
  18. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,471   +375

    That firefighter on the second floor is a pretty good shot.
  19. Xclusiveitalian

    Xclusiveitalian TS Evangelist Posts: 714   +75

    The most unfortunate thing about all of this is yes the firefighters are 100% liable and have to pay for the fixes..the bad news is the firefighter won't be paying for it, tax payers will. Guess what, they can do whatever they want.
  20. Apparently, no one noticed the newsman on the ground walking around with a camera on his shoulders. I did not see the firefighters hose him down...
  21. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    Did you notice how he is keeping his distance and not hovering around their heads? Did you think that they knew from the beginning he was there and and they told him where to stay as to not distract them and stay safe? Because I think all that happened and is the reason they left him alone, he knows the rules and is letting them do their job without bothering them, this guy with the drone did not do that. Their job is dangerous and any random distraction makes it worse and should be avoided, the guy should have gotten clearance from the FD so he would know where to stay away from instead he did whatever the hell he wanted and made a dangerous and difficult job worse.
  22. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Actually, the FD will either smash the windows out on your car or forcefully move it with their truck if it interferes with their ability to fight a fire, whichever is applicable. They can also go to town on adjacent property if they see fit (as is the case with other containment or access scenarios). Reducing the situation down to "they damaged his property, therefore they pay!" completely ignores the context.

    His property was interfering with their ability to fight the fire. In my opinion, the situation is no different from illegally parking your car in front of a hydrant or inadvertently obstructing an access point. You'd have a point if they made it an objective to chase the aircraft down, but they didn't. They only engaged the device when it became a problem (note that they paid it no attention when it kept its distance). No, the aircraft was not directly obstructing them. But it produced enough of a distraction for them to see fit to gun at it while the fire was still active.

    As for airspace/property laws... they need to be changed to reflect the existence of new technology. A paparazzi cannot roam freely around your property and video tape you. A paparazzi who learns to levitate shouldn't get a pass simply because he figured out how to keep his feet off the ground. Principle of the law > letter of the law.
    misor and Dyson Parkes like this.
  23. Dyson Parkes

    Dyson Parkes TS Enthusiast Posts: 17   +8

    Well said.
    While I do empathise with the owner of the 'drone', ultimately he flew it into an active fire zone. If the FD members felt it was a danger they were well within their rights to remove the obstruction.
    Proper permission is everything - check with the people in charge of the unfolding situation if you want to get close to it, don't just waltz on in. It would be no different to a police officer taking down a hobby 'drone' that someone was attempting to film a hostage situation or shoot-out with. If it's in the way, tough. Don't put it in the way and then complain when something happens to it.

    As for "principle > letter", I agree. The letter of the law is often taken far too literally in order for one party to gain rights at the expense of another.
  24. I'm not sure how the drone made it dangerous in any way. I'm not defending the drone flyer here. Honestly, the thought of them rather creeps me out. But instead of wasting the water on the drone, how about putting out the fire with the water?
    adamrussell likes this.
  25. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    1. The UAV has an undefined flight path and is therefor impossible to anticipate
    2. A random gust of wind, bird, mechanical failure or pilot error could send it crashing into the site
    3. The UAV could distract a firefighter and cause him to miss something, leading to injury

    It's fine at a distance. Coming in for close ups adds unnecessary risk to the firefighters' job.

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