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391 malfunctions, 16 injuries, 1 death get 44 years of fire extinguishers recalled

Fire extinguisher maker Kidde recalled 40.5 million fire extinguishers Wednesday, a recall that covers 134 models manufactured over 44 years including models involved in two previous recalls.

This comes three years after a car fire that turned fatal when a Kidde fire extinguisher failed to work.

The problem with the fire extinguishers, as stated in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall notice: “The fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge and can fail to activate during a fire emergency. In addition, the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard.”

This recall covers 134 models produced from Jan. 1, 1973, through Aug. 15, 2017. These include models that have plastic handles, or the push-button Pindicator models. They were sold at every kind of store, including 20th century brick-and-mortar stalwarts such as Montgomery Ward and Sears, big boxes such as Walmart and The Home Depot, and online retailers such as Amazon.com and ShopKidde.com. Some commercial trucks, RVs and boats came with the fire extinguishers, also. To check the Kidde models covered, click here.

There are many numbers and dates on the foods, drugs, cosmetics, and other products we use every day. When unsafe products must be removed from the market, these numbers and dates can help identify them quickly.

Also included in this recall are the 4.6 million fire extinguishers recalled in 2015 after 11 reports that the devices failed to discharge fully, and the 167,000 recalled in 2009 when the pressurized cylinder would lose pressure. No injuries had resulted from those malfunctions at the time of the recalls.

A death resulted from this malfunction. In a 2014 flaming car crash, the company admits in the recall notice, “Emergency responders could not get the recalled Kidde fire extinguishers to work.”

In addition, Kidde admits in the recall notice, “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.”

Kidde is offering replacements, not refunds. Customers should call the company at 855-271-0773, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Eastern time, Saturday or Sunday.

The recall FAQ section of Kidde’s website says, “No proof of purchase is required. Please supply the model number, year of manufacture, the unit’s date code and serial number. Additional information may also be requested. You can find the model number and serial number on the unit’s label.”

The construction company New Yorker Walter Kidde that began in 1900 turned to developing new ways to put out fires in the early 1900s. The company incorporated in 1968 as Walter Kidde & Co. and became a horizontal conglomerate. When the company was overextended in 1987, Hanson Trust, a United Kingdom company, bought Kidde for $1.7 billion.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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