If you own a consumer-grade fire extinguisher, check it NOW!

It may be subject to a recall and exchange program affecting over 40 million units in the USA and Canada.

Name of product:  Kidde fire extinguishers with plastic handles

Hazard:  The fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge and can fail to activate during a fire emergency. In addition, the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard.

Remedy:  Replace

Recall date:  November 2, 2017

There’s more at the link.  Note that the extinguishers were sold under numerous brand names, not just Kidde.

Kidde has provided serial number lookup instructions to help you identify whether your extinguisher(s) is/are involved.  See the list at that link, as well as instructions on how to return your extinguisher.

Folks, I’ve been caught up in two building fires.  They’re no fun at all – and that’s putting it very mildly!  I think everyone should have a couple of extinguishers available, not just at home, but in your vehicle, too.  How many times have you seen a blackened patch on the road where a car burned out?  I’ve actually seen two vehicles in the process of burning out, due to electrical and/or fuel system faults.  It would have been very handy if the driver had had an extinguisher, to put out the fire before it got out of control and turned the vehicle into a total loss.

I’ve bought these 2½-pound and 5-pound fire extinguishers (follow the links for details).  They’re filled with so-called ‘Purple K‘, for use at home and in Miss D.‘s and my vehicles.

They aren’t as effective as water for fighting dry material fires, but they’re a lot more useful for electrical or chemical fires, such as one might encounter in the kitchen or garage – and Purple K is non-corrosive on metal, making it ideal for putting out hard-to-get-at fires in chimneys that use metal flues and piping.  I researched the subject carefully, since there are an awful lot of cheaper “consumer grade” fire extinguishers that have proved less than optimum in dealing with an actual fire.  These aren’t “consumer grade”, but the kind of thing you’ll find in refineries and manufacturing operations.  That makes them rather more expensive than the cheap stuff . . . but then, they’re more likely to get the job done, and I have no objection at all to paying for that sort of reassurance!



  1. And with any dry powder fire extinguisher it's a good idea to turn it upside down and shake it every 6 months to keep the powder loose.

  2. Buy a hundred or more boxes of baking soda.
    …at least it's ONE product guaranteed to never be defective

  3. I am not paranoid, but prepared. After trying 3 or 4 fire extinguishers before getting one that worked. I have several available around house. Boxes of baking soda, some commercial fire "bombs" and take precautions like having lid available while cooking and clean out the dryer duct. I even have first aid kit and fire extinguisher in the chainsaw box ( helping friend cut firewood- he nearly burned down his house refueling saw, I got the nick in leg from chain coming off bar.) Stuff like fire extinguishers ,first aid kits and gas/water shut off wrenches ought to be in everyone's homes. Thomas

  4. "Two is one, one is none, and if it's important why don't you have three?"

    It's not ridiculous to have a good extinguisher in every closet ("good" means a name brand – which, of course Kidde used to be…. and "in every closet" means wall-mounted where access to it cannot be obstructed and it's not used as a coat rack) and at least 5 pounds A-B-C (anything bigger will be a problem for small people, and multiples in 5 lb size can be a better system than one 10 or 20 lb extinguisher). Don't put your kitchen extingusher next to the stove, put it on the other side of the room, and BTW, there are K-Class extinguishers specifically for kitchen-type fires; they're not cheap, but if one had a 5 lb A-B-C and a K-Class on a kitchen wall away from the stove it wouldn't be excessive.

    Extinguishers have a certification period – 6 years max for dry chemical, 1 year for K-Class and pressurized water – so regular inspections by competent, trained technicians are necessary.

  5. A general rule of thumb: Extinguishers with plastic hardware cannot be serviced or recharged. Over the long term, you will save money buying better quality at the beginning.

    I've always found that the extinguisher with the longest hose is the easiest to use. An extinguisher with a 20 pound charge is not over sized for a garage or area where you store fuel. In use, let large extinguishers drag the ground-aim the nozzle with dominant hand, use non-dominant hand to squeeze the handle and drag the extinguisher.

    Some of the kitchen extinguishers are specifically designed for easy clean up of the residue. That's surely a good thing-perhaps worth the extra $$.

  6. And yet, I replaced one that came with the house when I bought it 20 years ago…..and discharged the old one just for practice (and because I could) and oddly, it worked.

    'Twas a Kidde, and one with a plastic handle. I have disposed of it, or I'd check the model number to see if it was on the list.

    THis item had been stored, on it's bracket, on the wall of my garage for at LEAST 20 years, never moving.

    (and I'm not so sure about the "turn it upside down every 6 moths" thing, as the pickup for the powder is at the bottom….

  7. B:

    the problem is the powder solidifies. Nothing useful will come out of the nozzle when it is in this state. Probably should be rotated/shaken/hammered once a month, as once it starts caking, it seems to continue to harden until it will reach a state that can't be addressed while assembled.

  8. You could be right, and I could just have been lucky in my experience with old (10+ years) fire extinguishers that work well after sitting for long times.

    Or, thinking that the powder is dry to start, and the extinguisher is charged with dry(very dry) nitrogen, and the powder is talc and other substances that don't stick without moisture, it could be that it is simply an old wives tale about having to shake/beat/turn extinguishers.

  9. I actually got use a 10lb extinguisher at work a couple months ago. And it wasn't a training exercise, it was a real deal fire, hot enough to melt and then burn plastic. Hose was plenty long enough to set the can on the ground and aim it at the fire though I'm plenty able to lift a 10lb can no problem. It was a good experience actually. I'd used an aerosol extinguisher before, but never a full sized one.

    We keep a couple aerosol extinguishers around the house along with two (one oil fire rated) 5lb extinguishers, plus one in the garage. I am aware of the issues with aerosols, but they're also extremely lightweight and easy to use, and since I have problems with my hands….if I'm having a bad day "lightweight and easy to use" is important. The aerosols get replaced every 3yrs, we take the old ones out and use them to put out bonfires to discharge them.

    All of our household extinguishers were included in the recall. I wasn't bothered by buying Kidde. I guess next time I replace them I'll have to look at picking up something different.

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