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Advice from fire marshals in the wake of massive fire extinguisher recall

Advice from fire marshals in the wake of massive fire extinguisher recall. (ABC7)

Nearly 40 million Kidde fire extinguishers were recalled today, spanning more than four decades.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says they can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge, or just not work at all.

This recall includes models that were previously recalled in 2009 and in 2015.

The recall involves 134 models of the Kidde extinguishers.

Fire marshals say today’s recall is a good time to remind consumers that you need to inspect your fire extinguishers with the same discipline that you check your fire alarms. Things can go wrong, causing them to fail in an emergency.

Captain Ben O’Bryant, of the Arlington County Fire Department, says there are warning signs to look for. “The main things to check are for obvious damage. If the outside of the extinguisher is dented, if it’s rusted, if the handle’s bent or beat up, those would definitely be issues to worry about.”

O’Bryant says the most important thing to check is the gauge. Make sure the needle is in the green zone. If it’s not, get rid of it and get a new one.

Additionally, watch for corrosion - especially if you live in a humid climate or keep fire extinguishers in a garage or basement.

“If you have corrosion on the threads around the connection that’s where you’re going to start to lose the pressure which you would see on that gauge if it's out of the green,” says O’Bryant. “If it gets dropped it could damage the canister which again could cause a pressure loss, it could cause damage to handle which may make it inoperable. And depending on what’s kept around it, if the nozzle gets clogged, obviously the agent’s not going to be able to get out of the extinguisher, therefore making it ineffective.”

O’Bryant recommends having one extinguisher for every level of your house. He says fires double in size every 60 seconds. A working fire extinguisher can mean the difference between a small accident and something catastrophic.

Most fire extinguishers are good for five to 15 years, but check with the manufacturer for the shelf-life specific to your device.

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