DeKalb firefighters get new air packs after fight

by: Erica Byfield Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - After years of complaints, DeKalb County firefighters finally have new breathing equipment.
 

Through a series of investigative reports in the last two and a half years, firefighters told Channel 2 Action News their Draeger brand air packs repeatedly failed on them in burning buildings, forcing them to run out.
 
Three months ago, county leaders decided to buy new equipment and on Tuesday, Channel 2's Erica Byfield was there when they picked up the new Scott brand air packs.
 
Scott air packs are widely used in the metro Atlanta area. This is the second time DeKalb firefighters have used Scott equipment.
 
"They are relieved. I'm excited we actually have a piece of equipment we can operate safely," said DeKalb Fire Chief Norman Augustin.
 
A Draeger representative said the equipment was fine but not cleaned properly, and earlier this year, an independent federal investigation agreed with the company.
 
Despite those findings, several firefighters told Byfield they needed new equipment and now feel confident in their gear.

"That is one less thing that you have to worry about, just happy to have them back. I'm looking forward to getting my first fire, just waiting on that bell to ring so we can go do our job," firefighter Terence Wilkes said.
 
County officials used $2 million out of a reserve fund to purchase 300 air packs.



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