Skip to main content

Drone Usage Policy

Umatilla County Fire District #1 usage of drones:

The Umatilla County Fire District #1 (UCFD#1) is dedicated to embracing technologies that help improve its services and reduces labor costs while protecting the privacy and safety of its residents.

Using drones/UAS in the public interest is expected to benefit residents and visitors to the District through the more efficient use of District resources. 

Drones are used for purposes such as:

  • Disaster response & recovery: aerial intelligence of areas affected by disasters or emergencies
  • Disaster response: aerial assessment and analysis
  • Emergency response: building fire reconnaissance
  • Search & rescue: aerial intelligence, providing resources to those needing rescue
  • Training: assessment and evaluation of department UAS operations, Pilot in Charge (PIC) and department employee training on use of UAS
  • Collection of aerial images and video for District promotion, public information
  • Infrastructure inspection and maintenance
  • Safely facilitating inspections of property

District-owned UAS Operational Policies


The Umatilla County Fire District #1 will only conduct UAS flights following requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Those requirements include:

  • District flights to be flown under requirements of FAA Part 107 requirements
  • Fire district flights conducted by staff with Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA (requiring passing a test including the following topics):
    • Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
    • Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
    • Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
    • Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
    • Emergency procedures
    • Crew resource management
    • Radio communication procedures
    • Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
    • Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
    • Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
    • Airport operations
    • Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures


Umatilla County Fire District #1 UAS flights shall be undertaken only with an FAA licensed Pilot in Charge (PIC) supervising all UAS operations.

  • UAS flights shall be undertaken with a designated “Visual Observer” assisting the PIC in identifying hazards, changes in weather conditions or mission critical events.

Visual Observer will assist the operation of UAS by:

  • Maintaining a clear view of the area of operation.
  • Communicating with the Pilot In Charge either within speaking distance or with a portable radio/cell phone.
  • Keeping the Pilot In Charge advised of any possible hazards such as power lines, birds, other aircraft, rocks and hazardous weather conditions.

Ensuring Safety by Crews

Before taking off and after landing, the UAS shall be inspected for wear and/ or breakage and shall not be operated if the inspection reveals any wear or breakage that may interfere with control of the UAS.

  • Before taking off, the PIC shall conduct a visual and audible assessment to ensure no other aircraft are overhead or in the area to be filmed/photographed/observed.
  • If other aircraft are in the area, the flight is not to be undertaken until the airspace is clear.
  • The PIC shall not operate higher than 400’ above ground level, at night or outside line of sight without prior authorization from the FAA. Permitted flight times without FAA waiver is ½ hour before official sunrise to ½ hour after official sunset.
  • The PIC shall avoid flying over people to the extent that can be avoided.
  • The PIC shall ensure that municipal UAS flight occurs following conditions laid out by the Umatilla County Fire District #1 Airport Manager.
  • Use of a UAS shall be coordinated with the incident commander or senior district officer on scene.
  • UAS pilots shall be aware of weather conditions, maintenance conditions of the UAS, flight crew physical readiness and other potential impacts to UAS flight.

Respecting Your Privacy

District pilots must have an authorized purpose to collect photos or video using a UAS or use the UAS-collected photos or video.

Before each flight, fire district employees must evaluate potential privacy risks (Things such as flight over homes and yards, unintended observation of persons, unintentional capture of license plates, etc) and develop steps to mitigate those risks (things such as using an alternate flight route around homes, not recording until over the mission area or keeping the camera angled away from potential privacy risks).

Should information be incidentally collected that could be used to identify persons or private information, the District will make every effort to remove all personal identifiable information from raw data footage.

The District must restrict access to any raw UAS footage it retains to authorized staff. Distribution of raw UAS data is restricted to authorized departments for the purpose of cleansing and processing data only. In all other circumstances, the Fire District may not disclose raw, unprocessed UAS-collected data to the public except for exigent public safety needs or as required by law. The Umatilla County Fire District #1’s Records Request will be used for public requests for UAS data.

More commonly called drones; the terms Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), and Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) all refer to an unmanned aircraft flown by a pilot via a ground control system. The rules and regulations regarding drones and their operation by Umatilla County Fire District #1 (UCFD#1) and private citizens are rapidly changing.


If you want more information about FAA drone rules, or to report a drone that is not following those rules, reach out to your local FAA flight standards district office (FSDO).

The FAA’s investigators may be able to investigate your report and follow up with the drone operator. Federal Aviation Regulations prohibit the unsafe or unauthorized operation of an aircraft, including drones. Unsafe operations may result in substantial civil penalties and possible action against an operator’s FAA-issued certificate, or may be subject to criminal response by law enforcement in accordance with local laws and ordinances.

Portland FSDO
3180 NE Century Blvd
Hillsboro, Oregon 97124

To report an accident call: 800-992-7433

503-615-3200 office
800-847-3806 toll free

Email the Portland FSDO office

Hours: M-F, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.