New air tanks have DeKalb Co. firefighters breathing easier - CBS46 News

New air tanks have DeKalb County firefighters breathing easier

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DeKalb County firefighters are getting some state-of-the-art equipment that will save lives.

"There is a sense of relief tempered with a sense of excitement out here," said Norman Augustin, a Deputy Chief with the DeKalb County Fire Department.

The fire department is getting rid of its blue Draeger Air Packs and replacing them with a model made by a company called Scott. Since 2009, fire officials said there have been at least 29 reported incidents where the Draeger tanks malfunctioned, putting lives in danger.

"We had issues, we had some serious issues that had potential to be bad and it was because of the other pack," Augustin said.

In June, a DeKalb County firefighter suffered a cut to his leg and smoke inhalation when his Draeger tank malfunctioned and he jumped out of a two-story house. Because of the repeated failure of the Draeger equipment, many firefighters said they don't trust them.

"We operate on confidence," Augustin said. "We operate in confidence in equipment, confidence in management and confidence in training. When there is a break in that chain, it is a concern."

Firefighters say the Draeger air packs aren't durable enough to survive the conditions they work in. But Augustin says that won't be a problem anymore.

"They just function better for our needs. They are just more durable and suited to our needs in DeKalb County," Augustin said.

The fire department spent more than $2 million for 300 air packs.

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