By Terri Wiebold
Replacement smoke detector units are still available at Station 36 for residents who have confirmed affected units, and who have experienced a problem (intermittent chirping, unexplained alarms, and/or exploding batteries) with the units.
In order to be eligible to receive these free replacement units, residents must have filed a report with South Metro Fire Rescue and/or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). To file a report with the CPSC, go to www.cpsc.gov.
Investigating the problem
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is currently investigating a particular brand and model of a smoke detector that was used by various builders in homes in Castle Pines North, causing safety concerns for residents.
The investigation involves First Alert® model #4120B & 4120SB smoke detectors manufactured by BRK Brands, Inc., between January 1998 and October 2000. The hard-wired smoke detectors may experience malfunctions when the originally-installed batteries are replaced with a different brand of battery, causing the batteries to leak and even explode in some cases.
Colorado’s Investigator for the CPSC, Teresa Bloxham, has concluded an on-site investigation of an incident involving three such smoke detectors that exploded in the home of a Castle Pines North resident. “I have written my report and collected samples of the product,” said Bloxham. “The samples have been sent to Washington D.C. for further evaluation.”
Colorado is not the only state where this problem has been reported. News stations in Missouri and Pennsylvania have been following this story as well. In both instances, the models of the smoke detectors were the same as above and the batteries in the defective units had been replaced with Duracell brand batteries.
What to do with a defective smoke detector
BRK Brands, Inc. recommends that when consumers replace the batteries in these smoke detectors, they use the same brand as those provided with the alarm upon original installation. According to a customer service representative for BRK, other battery types (not just Duracell brand) may bulge or open inside the alarm, possibly exposing the internal parts and material of the battery. Its recommended replacement batteries are Eveready brand batteries numbered 1222 or 522. Eveready batteries are manufactured by Energizer. BRK recommends the Energizer Max 9-volt battery (which is Eveready 522) over the other recommended advisement battery, Eveready 1222. BRK representatives said that as long as the replacement batteries are Eveready or Energizer that they would be fine. To contact BRK directly, call 1-800-392-1395.
Residents who are having difficulty finding replacement batteries can pick them up free of charge at Fire Station #36 on Castle Pines Parkway while limited supplies last.
South Metro Fire Rescue and News Station CBS4 are also looking into the problem. South Metro Fire Education Specialist, Amy Teddy, cautions consumers not to remove the batteries from smoke detectors in order to silence the “chirping” which often occurs when the battery is discharging. “Consumers will need to remove the batteries to change them once the chirping begins….. BUT we want them to use caution if they have the affected units & they are Duracell’s……..those are the only cases. I feel that how it is currently presented leads to confusion & false senses. ”
Any residents who have experienced similar situations or who would like to learn more about this issue are encouraged to contact Amy Teddy, Public Education Specialist for South Metro Fire Rescue, at 720-488-7164.
To learn more about the Castle Pines North resident making it his personal mission to get the word out about this problem, watch for his feature article in the June issue of The Connection.