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May 4, 2013

Augusta fire lieutenant disciplined over air tanks

AUGUSTA (AP) — An Augusta fire lieutenant has been disciplined for missing a deadline to conduct safety inspections of oxygen tanks used to help firefighters breathe as they battle fires, the city’s fire chief said.

The missed April 30 inspection deadline forced Fire Chief Chris James to ask the military to loan his department 52 air cylinders from the nearby Fort Gordon Army post, The Augusta Chronicle reports.

Required inspections for 200 of the Augusta department’s air tanks were missed after an email reminder was sent to a lieutenant who handles maintenance requests, James said Friday.

“This guy gets maintenance requests all day, and it fell through,” James said. “It was an oversight on his part. A one-line email was sent to him, and it fell through.”

The chief declined to name the lieutenant and did not say specifically how he was being punished.

The air tanks are required to be inspected every five years. Augusta city commissioners and firefighter union officials said the oversight put firefighters’ lives at risk.

City Administrator Fred Russell said commissioners have made no decision on whether to punish the fire chief.

 

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