Fire Department looks at new technology that will help "see" underwater

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- From wildfires to rescuing drowning victims, firefighters are tasked with saving lives in all sorts of different circumstances.
The Eau Claire Fire Department teamed up with the DNR to get up to speed on a new piece of equipment.

The Wisconsin DNR and local fire departments train together every year so they can respond to natural disasters at a moment’s notice. Wednesday, the DNR brought out a new hi-tech piece of equipment that will help firefighters "see" underwater.

“The continuous training for fire departments is crucial; they're the ones who respond to all of our catastrophes, so they have to stay sharp,” said Conservation Warden with the Wisconsin DNR Phillip Dorn.

The Remote Operated Vehicle or ROV is like a miniature sub with a video camera and claw that can retrieve objects weighing as much as five pounds from deep underwater.

“They can use it as another tool to look for drowning victims, or other items they feel that they can find,” added Dorn.

ROV is owned by the DNR, but can be requested by the fire departments to help perform underwater rescue missions.

“This piece of equipment can be operated from the surface so the operator stays safe, but yet we can check area under water,” said Deputy Chief with the Eau Claire Fire Department, Scott Burkart.

Burkart said that will help tremendously, especially if the water conditions are too dangerous for the department's divers

“It’s very exciting for us, particular here in Eau Claire, because of the fact that Eau Claire is built around two different lakes and also two different rivers; water is a very big part of our operations,” added Burkart.

And the fire department says more additional training is always good news not only for the first responders, but for your safety as well.

“I think it's important they train constantly to try to keep up on their skills. It's a dangerous job, they're all trying to help the public,” said Dorn.

Eau Claire Fire Department says they don't work with the DNR very often, but when they do work together on rescue missions it's nice to know each other's skill sets and know the tools they each bring to the table.