Toledo Fire Dept. using new sonar tool

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - It is being called a set of underwater eyes. The Toledo Fire Department has a new tool to search underwater and it is ready to use, as of Thursday.

It is a sonar device that can be dunked into area waterways, such as the Maumee River, to paint a picture of what is happening below the surface. The tool can help rescuers find drowning victims or any sort of unusual or dangerous device planted on area bridges.

It looks like something from a science fiction movie, a capsule of sorts, that comes with software reminiscent of a World War II submarine.

It is officially called a "Sector Scanning Sonar Unit." To the TFD, it is another set of eyes.

"This allows us to have eyes underwater we can now see objects underwater with this piece of equipment," said Deputy Chief Thomas Jaksetic.

Sound waves produce a picture allowing the department to locate an underwater target. Divers can go straight to the spot saving valuable time.

"It cuts down the amount of man hours and time the diver's actually searching because it's a methodical search," said Ken O'Brien, technical training coordinator for Kongsberg Mesotech.

On Thursday for the first time, the TFD's dive team took their classroom training to the Maumee, using the sonar unit to hone in on planted objects, like a tank.

The device has a range of four to 250 feet, depending on water conditions and the object's size.

"We've been known to find objects as small as two inches," said O'Brien.

"This piece of equipment will allow us to identify a target, put a marker on it, and the diver now can go directly to the object," said Jaksetic.

The equipment cost the department $68,000, paid for with a federal port security grant.

"We can now deploy this sector scanning sonar unit, locate the victim and the target in a much more efficient and safer manner," said Jaksetic.

Providing clarity in murky water.

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