Investigations

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Virginia Company and Employees Fined a Combined $163,500 in Hazmat Case

On November 30, Fire Safety Products, Inc. (FSPI), Christiansburg, VA was ordered to pay $62,500 in fines and restitution by a U.S. District Court judge in Roanoke, VA for violating Hazmat regulations regarding testing and certification of compressed gas cylinders -- and for mail fraud in billing customers for the false certifications. FSPI owner/vice-president Gilbert Lee Maxwell was fined $20,000. Manager Allen Jay Dickerson, was fined $1,000. FSPI previously agreed to pay an additional $80,000 fine under a civil settlement reached on November 30, 2005. FSPI was also required to surrender their PHMSA retest authority for a period of five years. OIG investigation found that over 1,200 cylinders (e.g., medical oxygen tanks and firefighter air packs) serviced by FSPI were falsely certified as having been retested. Testing either was not conducted or was inadequate due to improperly trained FSPI employees and/or poorly calibrated test equipment. Customers included hospitals, nursing homes, and fire departments. Failure to perform accurate periodic hydrostatic retesting of gas cylinders places the lives of users at risk of injury or death due to explosion or malfunction.