Simply, mostly, NEVER!
The only possibly tolerated un-authorized communications would be imminent life-safety threat. That is not in evidence anywhere in this situation.
“Good intentions” ? To what extent? Otherwise it is quite unclear as to what unique, valuable information the alleged violator could possibly have or convey to justify his actions.
The referenced hilltop, Elk Butte, is a known USFS site. Firefighting and other flight operations would know about the location and beware if spotting for ground crews or a following retardant drop.
Ask anyone who’s been involved with single or multi-agency incident responses, communications, support of any kind – what’s involved here is specifically not good. “Comm tech” or not. Even if you are a “comm tech” officially assigned to an incident you’re not allowed to “break-in” on incident traffic. Any and all of that goes through incident command and is passed on through points of appropriate authority/chain-of-command.
There is no indication that this person is/was a “comm tech” for any entity or agency. His “communications business” is a wireless Internet service provider. No indication any conventional consumer, business or public safety communications support is provided otherwise.
Wrong was done.
The cost of wrong? Loss of license(s) – not indicated – interesting. Forfeiture of $34,000 – excessive? Making an example of? Indeed. Deterrent? Hopefully. If wrong/stupid doesn’t hurt what’s to prevent it? Way too many current, social circumstances of wrong not hurting, but coddled, festering, ruining lives, property, order.
‘Cost’ to amateur radio?
Could be significant. Some many hams already ‘pay’ for others’ ‘awkward’ approach to and failed implementation of the hobby. We may not be received much less welcome in many public service venues where we profess “when all else fails” and are challenged to overcome the hams that have failed their community and hobby. Many of us are denied or at least under significant cost and access constraints trying to implement ‘critical’ communications systems at various building- and hill-top sites we’d love to use for repeaters, AREDN, etc.
Don’t be “that person.” Don’t be a point of failure that propagates to the rest of the avocation and hopeful service to community. Learn the technology and implementation. Practice it well. Provide good experiences.