New bomb squad robot is ready for action

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/MSP
The new Telerob Telemax PRO is ready to go into service with the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

REISTERSTOWN — The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) Bomb Squad is prepared to deploy its newest bomb disposal robot. On Monday, the robot was placed into service, ready to mitigate possible explosive hazards.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal Bomb Squad is one of nine National Capitol Region Bomb Squads, commonly referred to as “Metrotech.” The new robot will be a welcome addition to the current fleet of seven older units the OSFM has across the state.

Bomb technicians have been training for months on the new Telerob Telemax PRO. The cost of the robot was approximately $400,000, acquired via a grant from the National Capital Region, Urban Area Security Initiative.
Among the many functions the robot are remote diagnostics, “render safe” operations on packages, and assistance with barricade situations. “One of the most exciting pieces of technology the unit has is hazardous material sampling equipment,” a statement from the OSFM said. “This will support HAZMAT teams by sending the robot into a scene, rather than public safety personnel for collection.”

State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci said, “Bomb technicians carry out some very delicate work and often risk their lives performing their duties. This addition to our fleet will keep our personnel safer.”

With the new unit being a medium-sized robot with a larger platform, bomb technicians will have the advantage of maneuvering into small spaces such as airplane cabins, train cars, and buses. The new robot weighs significantly less, at only 170 pounds, compared to the approximately 400-pound units the agency has in service.

“Being able to send a robot into a situation remotely is critical. This new robot will be small enough to enter tight spaces where bomb technicians had to go before, and that was a high-risk environment for them. Confined spaces magnify the effect of explosives,” Bomb Squad Commander Deputy Chief Duane K. Svites said.

The robot is equipped with more than 30 pre-programmed automatic motion sequences for manipulators and flippers.

Telerob is a German-based company; however, service to the robot can be accomplished through their local office in Erie, Pa. The robot will be available for responses out of the agency’s office located at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Bomb technicians must complete six weeks of initial training at the FBI Hazardous Devices School in Huntsville, Alabama. The Bomb Squad requires monthly in-service training and collaborative mock simulation exercises with other agencies.

Additionally, the OSFM operates a maritime explosive response team that provides the Bomb Squad with the ability to respond and manage explosive incidents in or around Maryland’s waterways and shipping industry. OSFM bomb technicians assigned to the Underwater Hazardous Device Team receive advanced training in underwater diving, boating, and tactical operations.