Updated: Aug 3, 2020
As part of our journey in learning about the bridge inspection industry and more specifically the data collection and reporting that goes along with it, we asked ourselves - how is that done underwater? I immediately turned to my right where Nicolas, our lead software engineer, sits to start a discussion. We started talking about the various possible tools like water-resistant cameras and measuring equipment. However, the discussion evolved quickly, and we got started on the topic of safety rather than the tech involved. A few of our bigger questions were:
What would happen if dangerous animals were in the water?
What if someone gets injured?
To better understand what goes into Underwater Bridge Inspections and get the answers to our questions, we thought it would be best to talk to someone who’s been through the process and has hands-on experience.
Alex Mocyunas is a licensed Divemaster who spent around 14 months as an assistant Underwater Bridge Inspector for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Diving into the Engineering World
Coming from a diving background, the first thing Alex did was learn about the engineering aspect of her job as an Underwater Bridge Inspector. She received training on the engineering terminology, bridge structural aspects, various defects to look for as well as the safety measures that must be followed.
When I asked Alex about the safety measures for her job, she said the most important step was studying the bridge plan before diving. On-site she is accompanied by a team of 3 consisting of two divers and one note-taker. The divers rotate between each other and whoever is not in the water acts as a rescue diver. The note-taker is a certified Bridge Engineer whose role is to record all of the information found by the divers.
Before diving, the team makes sure to check the surrounding area and throw rocks in the water to scare off animals. One time, Alex recalled running into an alligator mid-job and directly jumped out of the water. This caused the inspection to be delayed for 1 week.
“A common mistake for aspiring underwater bridge inspectors is focusing on the engineering rather than the diving” - Alex Mocyunas
What do you look for during an inspection?
We look for defects in the bridges such as cracks, spalling, vegetation, joint failure and graffiti. Once we had to report a fire under the bridge from someone burning their belongings.
What tools are used for inspections?
During our inspection, we use hammers, measuring tapes and water-resistant cameras. Whenever we come across defects, we take a picture so that we can report back to the note-taker with our findings.
Lastly, what is your advice for aspiring Underwater Bridge Inspectors?
For anyone wanting to get into underwater bridge inspections, I suggest focusing on mastering diving rather than the engineering aspect of the job. This will be taught, whereas not knowing how to dive well or being unfamiliar with the safety measures will make your job difficult.
About Data Recon:
Data Recon is the Bridge Inspection Software that proved to help engineering firms reduce their reporting cost by 75%, their inspection time by 30% and generate their reports 5x faster. Schedule a free demo instantly here.