Two styles of Kidde plastic handle and push-button Pindicator fire extinguishers made between 1973 and 2017 have been recalled.
These units incorporate black plastic nylon valves that may degrade over time, and may result in the valve spontaneously separating from the cylinder. Kidde is recalling about 37.8 million fire extinguishers sold in the United States, plus 2.7 million more in Canada.
Many of the fire extinguishers were sold under different brand names than Kidde, including Sam’s, Sanford, Sears, Mariner, Montgomery Ward, Quell and Honeywell. They were sold through a number of national and regional store chains, and on Amazon.com.
The company has reported that it is aware of at least one death in 2014 involving a car that caught on fire following a crash. In that situation, Kidde said that emergency responders could not get the recalled Kidde fire extinguishers to work.
There have been approximately 391 reports of failed or limited activation or nozzle detachment, including the fatality, approximately 16 injuries, including smoke inhalation and minor burns, and approximately 91 reports of property damage, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“This recall raises very serious questions about how millions of defective products ended up in the marketplace and why it took the company years or even decades to find out about the problem or take it seriously,” said William Wallace, policy analyst for Consumers Union. “Kidde owes the public an explanation—and the company shouldn’t rest until it gets as many of these fire extinguishers returned as possible.”
CPSC said the fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge and can fail to activate during a fire emergency. In addition, the commission said the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard.
Kidde announced that it is offering free replacements to anyone who owns one or more of the recalled units. The new units, containing metal parts instead of plastic, should arrive within 10 to 15 business days of being requested, the company said.
“Customer safety is our first priority,” Kidde declared. It also reported that it is working with the CPSC and other authorities to “ensure that affected fire extinguishers are replaced with different models as quickly as possible.”
Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the CPSC, also said the commission is using print and radio advertisements and social media to further publicize the recall. You don’t need to provide proof of purchase for your recalled fire extinguisher, she pointed out.
“This is a great opportunity for the consumer to get their fire extinguisher replaced, regardless of how old it is, to have that certainty and peace of mind,” Buerkle added. “I cannot emphasize enough how it can prevent fires.”
Though the recall goes back 44 years, no one should keep a fire extinguisher that long, a Consumers Union official warned. “If you have a rechargeable fire extinguisher of any age—regardless of whether it’s covered by the recall—and you are not sure if it is in good working order, you should replace it immediately,” said Don Huber, director of product safety.
The recall involves 134 models of fire extinguishers manufactured between January 1, 1973, and August 15, 2017, in the United States and Mexico by the Walter Kidde Portable Equipment Company Inc., of Mebane, N.C., which is owned by United Technologies Corp. CPSC also said the new recall also includes models that were previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015.
The extinguishers were sold in red, white and silver, and are either ABC- or BC-rated. The model number is printed on the fire extinguisher label. For units produced in 2007 and beyond, the date of manufacture is a 10-digit date code printed on the side of the cylinder, near the bottom.
Digits five through nine represent the day and year of manufacture in DDDYY format. Date codes for recalled models manufactured from January 2, 2012, through August 15, 2017, are 00212 through 22717. For units produced before 2007, a date code is not printed on the fire extinguisher.
The commission offers more detailed information on the models, serial numbers and dates of manufacture available on its website. To obtain additional information from the company, visit the Kidde website.