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Garcia bipartisan bill to support firefighters


Protecting vulnerable communities

This week, Reps Mike Garcia (CA-27) and Jennifer McClellan (D-VA) introduced the Advanced Capabilities for Emergency Response to Operations (ACERO) Act. This bipartisan bill would improve and enhance the use of drones to support firefighters in their efforts to protect our communities. 

“This is a game-changer for both our firefighters and communities vulnerable to wildfires,” Garcia said. “I’ve had countless conversations with firefighters in my district who have the same message: We need drones. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can quickly detect and reach small or remote fires to stop them from growing out of control—improving response times and keeping firefighters out of harm’s way. These UAV’s can also support operations at night—assisting emergency responders when visibility is low and manpower is reduced. Simply put, this bipartisan bill would serve as a critical force multiplier for our firefighters in defense of our communities.”

“This year, we experienced devastating wildfires in Virginia, including in Shenandoah National Park. As extreme weather events increase in severity and frequency, we must continue to strengthen our ability to respond effectively,” McClellan said. “NASA’s Advanced Capabilities for Emergency Response Operations (ACERO) project leverages drones and other cutting-edge aviation technologies to improve wildland fire coordination and operations. I am excited to introduce the ACERO Act to expand research and development of wildfire response technologies and improve the coordination of manned and unmanned vehicles. This legislation will help ensure the United States remains on the forefront of innovation and supports our firefighters and other first responders as they protect the American people.”

The ACERO Act would codify, expand, and improve the existing ACERO project at NASA, including the work done at the Armstrong Flight Research Center north of Lancaster. This project studies ways to advance the use of drones in wildfire responses with a focus on developing a concept of operations for UAVs to safely operate the same airspace as manned aircraft and ground crews during emergency operations.

This bipartisan legislation would expand the ACERO project to include research and development of new technologies related to the management, deconfliction, and coordination of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles in wildfire response. It will also develop – in collaboration with federal, state, and local governments as well as industry and academia – a unified concept of operations for the management of airspace during wildfires. In short, this bill is a critical force multiplier for firefighters nationwide.