An American company is recalling 37 million fire extinguishers in the U.S. and 2.7 million in Canada because they can get clogged or require excessive force to discharge and won't work in an emergency.
Kidde Corporation, based in North Carolina., said Thursday it is recalling 134 different brands of fire extinguishers manufactured between Jan. 1, 1973, and Aug. 15, 2017. The recall includes models that were recalled two years ago.
The U.S. safety regulator, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a release it is aware of 391 instances in which the extinguishers failed, which resulted in at least 16 injuries, 91 instances of property damage and one death, in 2014, when emergency responders could not get an extinguisher to work following a car crash.
Saeed Sedarat, the general manager of fire safety equipment seller Tesla Electric Ltd. in Toronto, says his company doesn't sell the extinguishers in question because he finds them inferior to metal-based industrial ones he favours.
"It's because it's cheaper plastic," he said. "Big-box store retailers ... sell these Kiddes with the plastic top but when they bring it to us we refuse to refill them because they're going to lose their charge."
"I tell all my customers 'we do not touch or recharge the ones with the plastic part,'" he said. "It was a known fact for the past few years."
Alongside the CPSC in the U.S., Health Canada says it has received two reports of failed activation in Canada, one involving property damages. No one was injured in either incident.
Health Canada is asking anyone with an affected fire extinguisher to contact the company at 1-855-233-2882. In the U.S. customers are urged to call 1-855-271-0773. The company says customers will be sent a replacement unit, free of charge, within two weeks, and no proof of purchase is required.
Sedarat says the recall should serve as a reminder to Canadians that are cutting corners with fire safety.
He recommends one up-to-date extinguisher on every level of a home, displayed prominently. "It's a matter of prevention," he said, "it's like insurance."