What liability issues does a retailer/distributor have in distributing illegal fire extinguishers?
Every product seller faces product liability exposure for the sale of an unreasonably dangerous product. This legal theory is called strict tort liability and responsibility is placed on a product seller even though the seller is not negligent. The responsibility is based upon the product's condition at the time the retailer makes the sale-i.e, the extinguisher's design, suitability for its intended use, adequacy of testing, instructions, warnings, presence of any production defects, express and implied warranties, etc.
Although a retailer may be drawn into product litigation, in many cases the retailer is entitled to recover its losses (excluding its attorneys' fees) from the person in the commercial chain who created the defect. This is most often the manufacturer who exercises control over the extinguisher's design, production, testing and marketing. The question to ask is, "Will the manufacturer be financially able to reimburse the retailer for these costs?"
An extinguisher's price is not the only factor for a retailer to consider. The retailer has a genuine financial interest in whether the extinguisher is legal to sell, as well as the extinguisher manufacturer's quality assurance programs, design and production competence, level of its own insurance coverage, financial strength, business integrity and the performance and reliability of its units. The quality of the manufacturer and its extinguisher do matter. Lack of quality will translate into costs, perhaps very substantial costs, for the retailer.
An overseas manufacturer presents additional concerns discussed in the next section. Many overseas manufacturers are beyond the reach of the U.S. courts, so the retailer becomes the main target defendant in the event of a loss. The retailer is forced to defend an extinguisher it did not design, manufacture, test, prepare warnings and instructions for, all without the ready assistance of the overseas manufacturer. And like the plaintiff the retailer cannot bring the overseas manufacturer into the case, to shoulder the defense burden and costs, due to the jurisdictional limits.
Whose responsibility is a product recall?
A fire extinguisher is viewed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") as a consumer product, and thus fire extinguishers are subject to the product recall requirements in the Consumer Product Protection Act, 15 USC 2051 et seq. The Act imposes recall responsibility on the manufacturer and any seller of a consumer product with a defect that creates a substantial product hazard. (15 USC 2064). If the manufacturer of an extinguisher is insolvent, bankrupt, out of business, under-insured, or beyond U.S. jurisdiction, it is the retailer who may be called on by the CPSC to conduct the recall, compensate the customers, replace the product and pay the associated costs.
WHERE TO INSTALL A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
Where should a consumer install his or her fire extinguisher?
All fire extinguishers should be mounted in the vehicle to prevent rolling, and potentially causing damage to the extinguisher or the interior of the vehicle. Plus, an unsecured fire extinguisher could cause injuries to the occupants of the vehicle. Each vehicle is different so there is not one place to mount your fire extinguisher. However, here are some guidelines for consumers to follow.
The extinguisher should be visible and easy to reach. Mount the bracket on a strong, stable surface, sloping, vertical or horizontal position. The most common places to mount a fire extinguisher are in front of and behind the seat.
Do NOT mount it in an area such as the engine compartment where a fire can make it inaccessible: where the extinguisher will get a build up of grease, oil or dirt where the extinguisher will be exposed to high temperatures.
Caution: Be careful not to use screws anywhere near the gas tank, and be careful not to screw through an exterior body panel. After boring the holes into metal, consumers may want to apply an undercoating to protect against rust, and in the case of a trunk, to prevent water from seeping in.
WHERE TO PURCHASE H3R PERFORMANCE
Where can I get an H3R Performance fire extinguisher?
Premium HalGuard and MaxOut fire extinguishers are available from a variety of fine retailers. Please use our dealer locator to find H3R Performance fire extinguisher nearest you.
HOW TO USE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
How to use a fire extinguisher?
Note: The following instructions are of a general nature, intended to familiarize the user with the basic operating techniques of H3R hand portable extinguishers. All operate by removing the ring (safety) pin and squeezing the handles together. Since extinguishers differ, the extinguisher nameplate must be consulted for specific procedures and starting distances.
The operating instructions for H3R Performance fire extinguishers are clearly noted on the extinguisher label, and in the Owner's Manual that came with the extinguisher.
1. HOLD THE EXTINGUISHER UPRIGHT AND PULL THE RING (SAFETY) PIN breaking the plastic seal.
2. STAND BACK FROM THE FIRE (the minimum distance stated on the nameplate) and AIM AT THE BASE OF THE FIRE NEAREST YOU.
3. Keeping the extinguisher UPRIGHT, SQUEEZE THE HANDLES TOGETHER to discharge and SWEEP FROM SIDE TO SIDE. Move closer as the fire is extinguished but not so close as to scatter the burning material or liquid.
4. When the fire is out, back away while watching for possible re-ignition.
5. Evacuate and ventilate the area immediately after use. The fumes and smoke from any fire may be hazardous and can be deadly.
Note: WHENEVER POSSIBLE, PROTECTIVE CLOTHING AND BREATHING EQUIPMENT SHOULD BE USED WHILE FIGHTING A FIRE.
1. HOLD EXTINGUISHER UPRIGHT AND PULL THE RING (SAFETY) PIN
2. STAND BACK FROM THE FIRE AND AIM AT THE BASE OF THE FIRE NEAREST YOU
3. SQUEEZE HANDLES TOGETHER AND SWEEP THE EXTINGUISHER STREAM SIDE TO SIDE
REMEMBER THIS SIMPLE WORD: PASS
PULL AIM SQUEEZE SWEEP
The following video was created by the Fire Equipment Manufacturers' Association to train viewers to learn how to assess a potential fire situation and how to use a fire extinguisher in the event of a fire emergency.
If I have a vehicle fire, should I attempt to put it out myself?
It is important to carry a fire extinguisher in automobiles for a number of reasons. The response time needed for "the professionals" to arrive on the scene is one. Car crashes and fires don't happen next to a fire station, and have no exact address to give to the responding department. Fires grow in size at a geometric rate. Every second you wait to attempt extinguishment means the fire is larger and the chances of extensive property damage increases and the chances of extinguishment diminish, even if the fire department arrives with several hundred gallons of water. Every second you wait to attempt extinguishment also imperils anyone trapped inside a burning automobile. When someone is trapped inside a burning auto, it is not always possible to extinguish the fire, and sometimes a fire will re-flash due to hot engine parts and/or an electrical spark that keeps re-igniting a fire, or the fuel continues to leak from a broken fuel line. Just keeping a fire at bay by repeatedly extinguishing it to keep it small and away from the occupants long enough for them to escape or for help to arrive is a consideration. There have been numerous news stories of such incidents. In some, as many as 20 extinguishers from passing motorists or nearby businesses have been used to keep a small fire at bay until someone could be extracted from a crashed auto.
Importantly, if someone can extinguish a fire when it is small, the professional fire fighters who respond will not have to risk their own lives to attempt to extinguish a larger fire.
There is a precedent for having fire extinguishers in motorized vehicles. The US Coast Guard requires a fire extinguisher on every boat over a certain size. One of the reasons is that the professionals cannot get to a boat in time to extinguish it or to rescue those on board a small boat before it is completely consumed in a fire. The same is really true of automobiles. What do you suppose the response time is for a fire department that is called out on a fire on the interstate highway?
INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE
How can I get my extinguisher recharged?
In addition to undergoing a 6-year maintenance and a 12-year hydrostatic test conducted by a licensed fire service company, any gauged fire extinguisher must be recharged after any use, or if the pressure gauge indicator falls outside of the green range (see NFPA 10).
H3R Performance does not recharge fire extinguishers. Check your local phone book for a fire service company in your area.
What are the inspection and maintenance requirements for my extinguisher?
Install, inspect, maintain and test your fire extinguisher in accordance with the National Fire Protection Assoc. Standard No. 10 "Portable Fire Extinguishers."
INSPECTION should be performed monthly or more frequently if circumstances dictate. The extinguisher should be checked to see that it is not damaged, the discharge outlet is not blocked, that it is fully charged, the seal is not
broken and that the operating instructions are clearly visible.
ANNUAL MAINTENANCE is a more complete inspection of the extinguisher and should be done professionally. It will reveal the need for hydro testing which must be done on Dry Chemical and Halotron I extinguishers every
TWELVE YEARS. Most local authorities require special tags be attached to the extinguisher to verify this service.
SIX YEAR MAINTENANCE - Every six years, extinguishers requiring a 12 year hydro test shall be emptied and subject to thorough examination of: mechanical parts, extinguishing agent and expelling means. When applicable maintenance procedures are done during periodic recharging or hydro testing, the six-year requirement will begin from that date.
RECHARGE should be done professionally immediately after any use by your local fire service company who has the trained personnel, extinguishing agents and equipment to do it properly. This extinguisher must be recharged
with the extinguishing agent specified on the nameplate. Substitutions could cause damage or injury.
HOW TO SHIP A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
What are the shipping requirements for Fire Extinguishers?
Hazardous items and ORM-D items have restrictions on where and how they are shipped due to the potential dangers associated with the products. One example of hazardous items would be a fire extinguisher. We can only ship hazardous and ORM-D items within the contiguous United States and to Alaska and Hawaii. The HAZMAT charges vary by type of service and the shipping location. We can only ship 2-day air to Alaska and Hawaii, which will cost $30 per box in Hazmat fees.