Senator Nielsen's Legislation to Encourage More Pilots to Fight Wildfires Moves a Step Closer to Reality

Friday, August 17, 2018

Wildfires are raging across California, and aircraft pilots are an integral part of fighting these devastating blazes. But cost-prohibitive regulations discouraged contracted pilots from partnering with CAL FIRE to battle the fires.

“Hundreds of thousands of acres of land are burning, endangering lives and damaging properties,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama). “We need to remove bureaucratic barriers to put more pilots in the air to fight these wildfires.”

Specifically, Senator Nielsen’s proposal – Senate Bill 1261 – allows private contracted pilots to carry their own insurance, without the exorbitant costs of additional regulations imposed by CAL FIRE.

Currently, independent pilots may have to pay more in insurance than they are paid by CAL FIRE. SB 1261 allows CAL FIRE to continue contracting for firefighting aircraft services without creating an onerous insurance requirement for those services.

SB 1261 passed its final major fiscal committee hearing. It now moves to its last legislative step – the Assembly Floor.

This bill, if passed the Legislature and signed by the Governor, will take effect immediately to ensure that as many pilots are qualified as possible.

Senator Nielsen added, “Too many lives have been lost and properties damaged. We must encourage more pilots to join the effort in containing these fires.”