It was one of the biggest recalls in government history: Millions of Kidde fire extinguishers were recalled in 2017 due to serious defects. Now a Consumer Reports investigation reveals new findings about how Kidde, a brand name synonymous with fire safety, allegedly failed to report information about problems with its fire extinguishers, putting consumers at risk for years.
CR sifted through years of lawsuits and reported complaints and found allegations that Kidde knew of the problems with its fire extinguishers years before it finally issued a recall in 2015 and again in 2017.
A judge recently ordered Kidde to pay a $12 million fine as part of a consent decree settling allegations by the Department of Justice that the company knowingly misled the government about the extent and scope of the problems with some of its products.
Kidde didn’t admit that it violated federal law as part of the settlement.
“Kidde is committed to ensuring our products are safe and dependable, especially those related to life safety such as fire extinguishers,” a Kidde spokesperson said.
But that’s not all. Consumer Reports also found reports on the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission from consumers saying Kidde bungled the recall, in some cases replacing a recalled fire extinguisher with another recalled model.
Among the reasons for the recall problems, Kidde says it learned some of the replacement units were “damaged in transit,” adding that the company has since taken steps to provide working extinguishers to customers who received damaged devices.
So what can you do to make sure your fire extinguisher will work when you need it? First, make sure it hasn’t been recalled. Head online to saferproducts.gov to check the model number. If you have a recalled Kidde fire extinguisher, contact the company to have it replaced as soon as possible.
And here are some helpful tips about storing and using a fire extinguisher:
Store it where a fire is most likely to occur, like the kitchen and garage.
Also, regularly check the dial on the pressure gauge; it should always be within the green zone. And while you’re at it, check the manufacture date on your extinguisher. If yours older than 12 years, replace it.
If your extinguisher comes with a warranty card, be sure to fill it out so you can be notified if there’s a recall.
And make sure you and everyone in your family knows how to use it. Read the instructions and familiarize yourself with your fire extinguisher before there’s an emergency. You don’t want the first time you ever handle it to be when there’s an actual fire to put out.
One more thing: CR says to always call 911 first if there’s a fire, and remember that home fire extinguishers are designed for small fires. If you’re unable to put out the fire yourself, get out of the house immediately and remain a safe distance outside while you wait for professionals to arrive.