Power Steering Recall

Roughly two years ago, Chrysler recalled approximately 442 Dodge Ram pick up trucks for a problem with the electric power steering (EPS) module.  The recall applied specifically to 2015 -2016 Ram 1500 trucks manufactured between January 22, 2015 and September 13, 2015.  The problem had to do with short circuiting of the EPS circuit board that would cause the loss of power steering and increase the risk of a crash.  Since that recall was put in effect, reports have been received that indicate that the short circuit is not enough to cause the 100 amp fuse, that is supposed to protect the module, to open.  As a result, the short circuits are causing wiring to overheat and ignite resulting in vehicular fires.  It should be noted that overheating of the wiring has not been addressed and is not part of the original recall.  The original recall is identified as NHTSA campaign # 16V16700 and Chrysler recall # S19.  A copy of the recall is attached below.  The second page shows a wiring diagram and the connection between the EPS module and battery through the 100 amp fuse that is in question.  Also shown is the connection between the battery and the power center.  If a fire occurs, the origin appears to be in the area of the battery and power center, both of which are located on the driver’s side of the engine compartment above the left front wheel well.  Complaints regarding vehicular fires related to this recall should be reported to NHTSA through their website at www.nhtsa.gov.

Recall & wiring diagram0001

Recall & wiring diagram0002

Advertisements

Fire Hazard Prompts Ford to Recall 2 Million F-150s

The National Highway Safety Administration, NHTSA, has announced that Ford has recalled approximately 2 million F-150 pick up trucks.  The recall applies to 2015 -2018 F-150 regular and super crew cab pick up trucks.  The seatbelt pretensioner can generate sparks when activated during a sudden stop.  The sparks can ignite flammable material located inside the “B” pillar post including carpeting and insulation.  Ford has also identified the manufacturers of the seatbelts.  Joyson supplied the seatbelts for the 2015 to 2017 models while ZF supplied the belts for the 2018 year models.  Approximately 1.62 million vehicles were sold in the United States, 340,000 vehicles were sold in Canada and 37,000 were sold in Mexico.  The recall is expected to begin on September 24, 2018 with Ford notifying owners.  The Ford recall identification number for this recall is 18S27.  NHTSA’s campaign number is 18V568000.  For additional information, consumers can contact Ford by calling 1-866-436-7332 or visiting Ford’s website at www.ford.com.

 

 

 

Rheem Water Heater Recall

On May 26, 2016 Rheem recalled approximately 50000 electric water heaters.  The problem with the appliances was that the temperature control could overheat resulting in a fire.  The recall applied to 40, 50 and 60 gallon units.  Recently, we encountered a water heater where a fire had occurred and caused damage to the upper control area including the circuit board that controls the water temperature. In this instance, damage was limited to the upper front of the appliance and the ceiling of the closet where the water heater had been installed.  However, if the fire had gone unnoticed, the fire would have spread to the remainder of the structure causing significant damage.  Water heaters involved in this recall are still in circulation.   Consumers are advised to contact Rheem if they have an appliance that should be replaced before a fire occurs.  A copy of the recall is shown below along with Rheem’s contact information.

 

Ford Recalls Vehicles for Safety Issues

Ford Motor Company has announced the recall of approximately 360,000 vehicles in North America for a problem that can be a fire hazard. The problem is that certain vehicles can overheat due to lack of coolant circulation.  Lack of coolant of coolant circulation can be caused by fluid leakage.  Overheating of the engine can cause the engine cylinder head to crack resulting in the release of oil.  Oil coming into contact with hot surfaces such as the exhaust manifold can cause an engine fire to erupt.  The recall applies to 2014 Escape SUVs, 2014-2015 Fiesta ST, 2013-2014 Ford Fusion, and 2013-2015 Transit Connect Vans.  Owners can take their vehicles to their dealers to have them checked.  At this time, Ford has not decided if the company will fix any coolant leaks but will install a coolant level senor to tell the driver when their vehicle needs additional coolant.  For additional information, owners can contact Ford directly by calling 1-800-392-3673 or visiting their website at www.ford.com.

In addition to the coolant issue, Ford has increased its recall of certain vehicles due an on going problem with faulty door latches. In the latest recall, a pawl located inside the door latch can break preventing the door from closing completely.  This means that the door can open while the vehicle is in motion.  To date, the recall covers the following vehicles: 2014 Fiesta, 2013-2014 Fusion, 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ, 2012-2015 Ford Focus, 2013-2015 Ford Escape and 2013-2015 C-Max.  Owners should take vehicles to their dealers to have them checked and repaired if necessary.  For additional information, owners can contact Ford by calling 1-800-392-3673 or visiting their website at www.ford.com.

 

 

 

Compact Florescent Lights

DSC04442.JPGCompact florescent lights or CFLs as they are known are supposed to be an energy efficient alternative to incandescent light bulbs. CFLs have been on the market for a few years now and have slowly been gaining acceptance by the general public. But, (and there is a “but”) recently, CFLs have been posing a problem. The problem is that some CFLs have a tendency to explode and cause a fire. The cause of the explosion is a faulty ballast. When the ballast fails, the typical failure mode is one where the ballast emits a small amount of smoke and a burned smell, then fails completely without a fire incident. Also, please be aware that these bulbs are made with mercury. If you must handle a bulb that has exploded, use gloves to protect your hands and wash your hands afterward. The CFL shown above is just one instance where the bulb exploded, ignited the lamp shade and caused damage to an antique stereo cabinet. The damage to the home was minimal although if the fire had not been extinguished quickly, the loss could have been more severe. There currently is no recall for bulbs manufactured by General Electric with the number FLE23HT3/2/10E/SW. It should also be noted that General Electric has elected to stop manufacturing CFL bulbs as of December 31, 2016. For CFLs manufactured by other companies, consumers should check with the company directly to find out if there are any recalls for the bulb(s) they have.  For the time being, LED bulbs seem to be a safer alternative to CFL bulbs.

 

 

Fires and Appliance Safety

The weather has definitely gotten colder and heating systems are being put to the test. There are different kinds of systems; electric resistance, gas-fired forced air, hot water, and steam to name a few.  Regardless of the type of system, the potential for accidental fire is part of all heating systems.   During this time of year, it not uncommon for problems to develop which, when left unattended, can result in significant damage to homes and businesses.  For example, furnaces, both gas and electric, should be cleaned at least once per year; at the beginning of the heating season.  Some people think that just because they change their air filters every once-in-awhile maintenance is complete.  NOT SO!  Depending on the efficiency of the filter in use, some dust particles will pass through the filter media and accumulate on blower blades, motors, and heat exchanger surfaces.  The burning smell often detected when the furnace is first started is the result of dust accumulation.  If the furnace is never cleaned, dust accumulation can ignite and spread outside of ductwork.  Similarly, if the controls area is never cleaned, burners can become clogged resulting in poor combustion and sometimes, delayed ignition.  Delayed ignition of gas/air mixtures can become explosive and when ignited, can release a tremendous amount of heat with deadly force.  Poor combustion can also produce carbon monoxide which when inhaled can be deadly, especially to elderly people and young children with respiratory problems.  Similarly, electric heating systems such as heat pumps should be checked for proper operation as well as components that are in good working condition.  One of the biggest problems that should be guarded against is the wiring insulation that becomes brittle with age and cracks.  Exposure of conductors can result in short circuiting leading to a fire which can then spread to the structure.  Just because a circuit is protected with a circuit breaker doesn’t mean that a fire can never develop.  Circuit breakers are current limiting devices NOT thermal limiting devices.  Heat exchange coils, motor, fans, and blowers in heat pumps should also be kept clean.  Heat pumps come in different configurations such as air to air, air to water, and air to ground.  In the last two configurations, a fluid such as water or glycol is circulated to transfer heat to or from the heat pump.  In order to do so, a pump is used to circulate the fluid and must also be serviced at certain times.  Failure to do so can result in pump motor burnouts that could result in fire.  Remember, the pump and its motor are usually two separate components unless intentionally manufactured as a single unit.  Lastly, there is not much that can be done with hot and steam boilers except to make sure that the wiring is in good condition, stack temperature is not excessive, and piping is also in good condition.  Also, remember that piping can also be a source of ignition.  Hot piping can ignite combustibles if contact is maintained long enough.  Maintenance is the key to preventing fires in heating equipment.

“Leave the Friggin Thing Alone!”

It still amazes me that whenever a fire occurs in a machine, like a car or a tractor, somebody who is NOT authorized, has to mess with it. There are still people out there that don’t realize that when they disassemble something they are tampering with evidence.  Even if the case has nothing to do with anything criminal, there is the possibility that a product defect or faulty workmanship might have been responsible for the fire.  But, if the machine (evidence) is disassembled, then evidence is compromised if not destroyed outright.  Disassembly and subsequent testing or examination cannot occur without all interested parties being placed on notice.  Once notified, all parties must be given the chance to participate in formulating a protocol for the disassembly, testing and examination.  After the protocol is formulated, the parties must agree on when and who will perform all necessary functions.  In short, all parties must have access to the same information at the same time.  If not, the potential for spoliation of evidence claims can become an avenue for additional lawsuits or defense, depending on your point of view.  Note that many property insurance policies have a subrogation clause which requires that the policyholder do everything it can to protect their carrier’s right which includes protecting evidence.

%d bloggers like this: