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Firm President Made False Statements About Retesting of 2,000 High-Pressure Cylinders

Greg Austin, president of Austin & Pruitt Fire & Safety Equipment, Wilmington, DE, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, to making false statements regarding the testing of about 2,000 high-pressure compressed-gas cylinders. Austin’s business is authorized by the Department to conduct visual and hydrostatic retests of high-pressure cylinders, such as fire extinguishers and firefighter air-packs. After an unannounced inspection in September 2000, the firm was asked to recall and retest 81 cylinders. On three occasions—September 26, 2001, January 29, 2002, and March 28, 2002—Austin informed Department officials that about 64 of the 81 cylinders had been recalled and retested. Not believing him, investigators found about 30 cylinders at fire departments that had not been retested. Firefighters count on certifications that their equipment is properly functioning and safe. By lying, Austin put their lives at risk. Austin is scheduled for sentencing on August 5. The case was investigated by OIG and RSPA.