Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 2. Provision of Fire Protection Services

Obstruction Of Aerial Wildfire Suppression Effort -- Penalty -- Exceptions

76-13-214. Obstruction of aerial wildfire suppression effort -- penalty -- exceptions. (1) A person may not obstruct, impede, prevent, or otherwise interfere with a lawful aerial wildfire suppression response by a state or local government effort by any means, including by the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle system.

(2) A person who violates subsection (1) is liable for a civil penalty to the state or local government for an amount equivalent to the reasonable costs of obstructing, impeding, preventing, or interfering with an aerial wildfire suppression response effort. The penalty may not exceed the actual flight costs of the aerial wildfire suppression response effort that was obstructed, impeded, prevented, or interfered with.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to the operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle system conducted by a unit or agency of the United States government or of a state, tribal, or local government, including any individual conducting an operation pursuant to a contract or other agreement entered into with the unit or agency, for the purpose of protecting the public safety and welfare, including firefighting, law enforcement, or emergency response.

(4) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:

(a) "Unmanned aerial vehicle" means an aircraft that is:

(i) capable of sustaining flight; and

(ii) operated with no possible direct human intervention from on or within the aircraft.

(b) "Unmanned aerial vehicle system" means the entire system used to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle, including:

(i) the unmanned aerial vehicle;

(ii) communications equipment;

(iii) navigation equipment;

(iv) controllers;

(v) support equipment; and

(vi) autopilot functionality.

(c) "Wildfire" means an unplanned, unwanted fire burning uncontrolled and consuming vegetative fuels.

(d) "Wildfire suppression" means an effort to contain, extinguish, or suppress a wildfire.

History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 274, L. 2017.