Fire Extinguisher Maker Agrees to $12M Penalty

Extinguisher failures were linked to some 16 injuries and at least one fatality.

Fire extinguisher manufacturer Walter Kidde Portable Equipment has been ordered to pay a $12 million civil penalty following allegations that the company failed to inform the Consumer Product Safety Commission of product defects in a timely manner.

Based in Mebane, North Carolina, Kidde agreed to the civil penalty and other terms as part of a consent decree entered by a federal judge. 

The allegations stem from a 2017 recall of Kidde fire extinguishers. According to the recall, the extinguishers could become clogged or require excessive force to discharge, fail to activate during a fire emergency, and some nozzles even fell off. 

In one case, the fire extinguishers were connected to a car fire death after an accident in 2014. Emergency responders couldn’t get the recalled Kidde fire extinguishers to work. 

As of the 2017 recall, the company had received nearly 400 reports of product failures, some 16 injuries, and more than 90 reports of property damage.

The recall affected about 37.8 million units in the U.S., 2.7 million in Canada, and about 7,000 in Mexico. It involved 134 models of Kidde fire extinguishers manufactured from Jan. 1, 1973, through Aug. 15, 2017.

Some of the fire extinguishers were previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015.

According to the Department of Justice, the company allegedly violated the Consumer Product Safety Act by underreporting the scope and nature of the defect and risk, and the number of products and models affected. 

Kidde also failed to immediately report information concerning nozzles detaching from fire extinguishers to the CPSC and misused a registered safety certification mark.    

As part of the agreement, Kidde will create a compliance program to comply with the Consumer Product Safety Act, as well as internal controls and procedures designed to ensure timely, complete and accurate reporting.                     

The extinguishers were sold online, in retail stores, and with commercial trucks, recreational vehicles, personal watercraft, and boats.

Although Kidde agreed to the decree, it did not admit that it violated the law.

More in Video