Store-Bought Smoke Detectors Subject of Recall, Civil Judgment

WASHINGTON—A recall and a lost lawsuit are casting a dim light on store-bought, battery-powered smoke detectors.

The Consumer Products and Safety Commission (CSPC) has announced a voluntary recall of the First Alert(R) ONELINK(tm) battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms manufactured by BRK Brands Inc.

CSPC says the alarms drain the power from their batteries rapidly, causing premature deactivation of the alarm.

CSPC says it has received 329 reports of premature low-battery power in the alarms, sold at department and hardware stores from June 2005 to March.

Models SA500 and SCO500 with a date code prior to March 6 are subject to the recall. Customers are being asked to contact BRK Brands about receiving a replacement alarm.

Meanwhile, in Rotterdam, N.Y., a family has won $7 million in a lawsuit after saying a defective First Alert detector was responsible for the death of a father and daughter in a 2001 house fire.

According to the Times Union, two were killed after a frayed and overheated wire caught fire. Neither of two First Alert detectors sounded to warn the residents of the blaze.

Lawyers for the plaintiff told the Times Union that BRK Brands company officials testified on the stand during the trial and revealed the company knew that the alarms often didn’t go off at all, depending on the type of fire, yet sold them anyway.

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