The Business Review reports that a jury in New York has rendered a $7 million damages verdict against First Alert and BRK Brands Inc. for selling smoke detectors that failed to alert a family of a fire in their home.
Two family members died in the fire because the ionization type detectors never went off. According to the victims’ attorney,
The detectors at issue were ionization type smoke detectors that sense high temperature, fast moving fires, as opposed to detectors employing photoelectric cells which are better at detecting smoldering fires, like the one which apparently killed William and Christine Hackert, Hacker said. A photoelectric smoke detector would detect the smoke from a fire 15 minutes earlier than the ionization type, Hacker said. During the trial the jury heard from witnesses who testified that the company was aware of the shortcomings of the ionization only detector but continued to market the product instead of selling only dual detectors. The dual detectors cost from $20 to $25 while the ionization only types sell for $10 to $15.
The attorney added that his investigation revealed “750 complaints from consumers whose ionization type detectors failed to sound during smoke or fire events”, according to the news story.
Consumers would be wise to check that their homes are equipped with smoke detectors that include photoelectric technology. Hopefully, there will be no other cases like this tragic one.