San Diego bomb squad to begin using drones

The next time the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s bomb squad responds to a call, it could have new gadgets at its disposal: drones.

The department received two new Aeryon SkyRanger drones in mid-December, and bomb squad members have been using them in simulations recently, a city official said last week. The drones are expected to be used the next time the specialized unit is called on to check out a potential threat.

San Diego’s fire department — specifically its bomb squad — is the only public safety agency in the city authorized to use drones, and can do so only on a limited basis, according to Tiffany Vinson, San Diego’s homeland security coordinator. Under similarly narrow rules, the Chula Vista Police Department also began using drones in late October.