New X-ray equipment will help Newport News Bomb Squad with efficiency, safety

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - If there's a suspected bomb discovered along the Peninsula, the Newport News Bomb Squad likely won't be far away.

Soon members of the bomb squad will have a new tool to not only help keep themselves safe, but the community too.

The Virginia Department of Homeland Security recently announced a $59,000 grant for the Newport News Bomb Squad to purchase new X-ray equipment.

X-ray technology allows for bomb technicians to see inside a suspicious device and, if it's deemed to be dangerous, figure out the best way to disarm.

“It’s one of our primary diagnostic tools to assist in determining if something is hazardous or not," said Jim Gower, Battalion Chief for the Newport News Fire Department's Special Operations division. “Our current X-ray system is aging and this will be a great benefit.”

Gower says, although effective, the current process to perform an X-ray takes several minutes.

“This new system will give us an almost instant picture of what the bomb technician is dealing with. He’ll know how hazardous it is…I would say in under 30 seconds," he said. “The grant is great for the squad and great for bomb technician safety. At the same time, it’s great for the community to have these type of tools to have timely response and timely action on something potentially very dangerous.”

The grant awarded to the bomb squad is part of more than $172,000 awarded to the City of Newport News.

Gower says the plan is to have the new technology in use by the new year.