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Homeowners Warned Of Battery Problems With Detectors

One of the most popular smoke detector brands on the market has issued a warning that could save lives, according to a Problem Solvers report.

Local 6 News has learned First Alert's BRK-brand smoke detectors manufactured prior to Oct. 2000 are not compatible with Duracell batteries.

"In fact, the wrong battery will expand, burst or explode," Problem Solver Mike Holfeld said.

"Have you ever seen anything like this before?" Holfeld asked.

"Never, never in 25 years have I seen something where the battery would burst and explode," Seminole County Lt. John Rogers said.

"It's pretty dangerous," an official said. "They pop pretty. It's a pretty good little explosion."

Ginger Sayer said a battery exploded in her smoke alarm.

"(There is) a sense of complacency every time the alarm goes off," Sayer said. "You're not thinking about safety first, you're thinking about where's the battery so I can change it because you're annoyed."

Sayer is talking about the nonstop chirping that kicks in when the back up battery needs to be replaced, Holfeld said.

Some homeowners have cut their circuit breakers to the hardwire units.

Local 6 has been advising Central Florida fire departments about the battery flaw, according to the report.

In Colorado, fire officials are going door to door asking residents to check the model numbers and the batteries inside.

The two models identified are First Alert's BRK brand 4120B and 4120SB. The only batteries that will work safely with the models are Eveready or Energizer 9-volt batteries.

"(It's) very important that you don't go to sleep tonight without a working fire detector. It doubles your chances of surviving a house fire," Rogers said.

The report said smoke alarms are credited with reducing home fire deaths by 50 percent.

First Alert said missing, disconnected or dead batteries are the primary reason alarms fail.

"There will be scoring or smoke on the outside of the smoke detector and then you know that's the one that probably caused the alarm to go off," resident Dave Grewe said.

"If it's chirping once every few minutes, that means the battery is dead or something is wrong with it," Rogers said. "And definitely change the battery or look into changing your detector. They only have a life span of about five or 10 years." For more information, click First Alert.
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