Sheriff’s bomb/arson unit’s new equipment can contain chemical, biological and explosive threats
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Bomb experts from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said a new piece of equipment they’ll unveil Thursday could help area law enforcement agencies in the event of a serial bomber like the one who attacked Austin, Texas, earlier this month.
The specialized steel detonation chamber, called a total-containment vessel, can be used to detonate explosive devices, contain potentially harmful gases and secure samples for evidence collection, said Sgt. Greg Hampton of the sheriff’s bomb/arson unit.
The trailer-mounted total-containment vessel was bought thanks to a $350,000 federal grant, officials said.
“We’re able to contain an explosive shot inside, and not subject us or the public to any weapons of mass destruction — chemicals, biological, radiological materials — that might be inside an (improvised explosive device),” Hampton said. “And then we’re able to take samples and store them for evidence.”
The new piece of equipment will help the highly trained, eight-member bomb/arson unit “keep the public as safe as possible,” Hampton said.
The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s bomb squad will share use of the total-containment vessel, and it will be deployed throughout the county as needed, officials said.
“If a similar incident like in Austin, Texas, happens in San Diego, the (total containment vessel) could be used to render suspicious packages safe and to collect evidence,” sheriff’s officials said.
Two people were killed and several others injured between March 2 and March 20 in a series of bombings in Austin and the surrounding area. Authorities say 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt was responsible for the series of package bombs and a trip-wire explosive that killed two people and injured five others. Conditt killed himself with an explosive as law enforcement closed in on him.