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August 2001: Central Sprinkler Head Recall

On July 19th, 2001, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Central Sprinkler Company, an affiliate of Tyco Fire Products LP, of Lansdale, PA., announced a voluntary recall of 35 million Central fire sprinklers with O-ring seals. The program also includes a limited number of O-ring models sold by Gem Sprinkler Company and Star Sprinkler, Inc. totaling about 167,000 heads. These sprinklers have been installed nationwide in a variety of buildings, including houses, apartments, hospitals, day care facilities, schools, dormitories, nursing homes, supermarkets, parking garages, warehouses and office buildings.

This replacement program includes two kinds of sprinklers, "wet" and "dry." Wet sprinklers are installed in piping that is filled with water. Dry sprinklers are used in areas that may be exposed to very cold temperatures and the exposed piping does not contain water. These incidents resulted in two property damage claims against Central.

Central initiated this action because it discovered the performance of these O-ring sprinklers could degrade over time. These sprinkler heads can corrode or minerals, salts and other contaminants in water can affect the rubber O-ring seals. These factors could cause the sprinkler heads not to activate in a fire. Central is providing newer fire sprinklers that do not use O-ring seals. Central has received 4 reports of wet sprinklers failing to activate during a fire and 9 similar reports on dry sprinklers.

The sprinkler heads in questions have the words "CENTRAL" or "STAR", the letters "CSC", the letter "G" in triangle, or a star-shaped symbol stamped on either the metal sprinkler frame or on the deflector. The model designation and date may also be stamped on the frame or deflector. There are 48 Central "wet", 14 Central "dry", 1 Gem "wet" and 5 Star "dry" sprinklers manufactured between the mid 1970s and 2000 subject to recall.

Building and homeowners should check their fire sprinklers immediately to see if they are part of this voluntary replacement program. For more information on how to identify sprinklers subject to this program and to learn how to participate in this program, call the Notice Packet Request Line at 1-800-871-3492, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or access the program's web site at www.SprinklerReplacement.com.

The CPSC is currently working with the sprinkler industry to improve sprinkler reliability and upgrade existing standards and codes. Both the CPSC and Central Sprinkler emphasize that for sprinkler systems to be effective, they must be regularly inspected and maintained. In addition, the most recent industry standards states that dry sprinkler heads should be tested and replaced, if necessary, at least every 10 years.