San Diego

SDFD Lifeguards Debut New Underwater ‘Scooters'

The new scooters are two generations ahead of the equip the department currently has

Lifeguards with San Diego Fire-Rescue tested out new underwater “scooters” Wednesday morning in an effort to make water rescues faster and safer.

Crews held inaugural launches for its new Piranha P1 Scooters at SDFD Lifeguard Headquarters in Mission Bay.

“These Piranhas are going to increase our effectiveness, extend the range at a high speed and allow the team to cover more area at just about five times faster,” said SDFD Lifeguard Chief James Gartland.

The rescue and recovery tools can dive down to 600 feet, according to SDFD Lifeguards Sgt. Rob Brown. Though Brown noted that SDFD crews would never operate that deep.

“The average diver swims along at a little less than one mile per hour,” said Brown.

The Piranha P1 Scooters can reach speeds of 2.9 miles per hour, Brown said Wednesday.

“We can move so fast that if you turn your head in the slipstream, it’ll actually pull your mask off,” he said.

The new scooters are two generations ahead of the equip the department currently has, according to Brown.

SDFD said the time it takes to survey a wreckage site should be three to four times faster than it is now.

One area where SDFD had “numerous incidents and injuries” was at the wreckage site of the HMCS Yukon, roughly two miles off the coast of Mission Bay. Brown said the new equipment should improve diver safety.

“Fortunately, San Diego has some of the best diving conditions in Southern California, so on a given day, these really help us out because we can conduct a very efficient, very fast wide-area search for someone who’s disappeared underwater,” Brown said.

The scooters were donated by the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation. The foundation is currently trying to raise funds to purchase four more Piranha P1 Scooters for SDFD. To donate, visit San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation’s website.

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