Equipment failure forced a DeKalb County firefighter to jump through a second-story window.
It was the latest in a string of reports of breathing equipment failing on firefighters in the county. Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer first broke the story on problems with the air packs more than two years ago.
DeKalb County Fire Chief Eddie O’Brien said the firefighter was hospitalized but has since been released.
There have been nearly 30 reported close-calls involving the Draeger air packs. Last week, a firefighter was on the second-floor of a house when he lost air.
"It wasn't even fire. It was smoke, so I'm just thinking he couldn't inhale the smoke," Sharon Carter told Fleischer.
Carter watched from her cul-de-sac as firefighters worked on her neighbor's home. O’Brien said one of his men had to stick his head through a second-story window and remove his face mask to breathe after his Draeger air pack quit working.
"He actually had to break out the windows, and I hear he hurt himself pretty bad doing that," Carter said. Neighbors said firefighters placed a ladder against the house to help out the struggling firefighter. O’Brien said another firefighter climbed up to help the one who couldn't breathe climb down.
“They laid him on the ground out there, and then they put the thing on his [face] so he could breathe," Carter said.
He was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and a cut on his leg. O’Brien sent his air pack for review by federal inspectors.
Despite firefighter complaints, a series of Channel 2 investigations and similar problems in other states, air pack officials stand by their product. Draeger representatives said the problem is actually a maintenance issue.