Combustible Hoverboards Still Out There

Back in 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled thousands of hoverboards due to a problem with lithium ion batteries.  The batteries would short circuit and cause the hoverboards to ignite.  Because most of the brands used cheap materials and were made overseas, the market pretty much disappeared overnight.  However, hoverboards that have some age on them are still in use.  Recently, one was encountered in the investigation of an apartment fire.  The condition of the hoverboard is shown below.  Spontaneous ignition of the hoverboard was determined to have been the cause of the fire.  More specifically, the lithium ion batteries  appeared to have self-short-circuited resulting in excessive heat buildup (thermal runaway) that ultimately led to the ignition of the product.  If you have an older product, it is recommended that you replace the batteries with batteries or a battery pack certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  Make sure that the batteries or battery pack has been tested according to UL standard 1642 or 2054.  The product should carry a label showing what standard has been met.   For new products made this year, 2020, the product should have been tested according to UL standard 2272.  Look for a label on the product indicating that the product has been certified accordingly.       

Beware of Acucraft Wood-Burning Fireplaces

Not many people know that Underwriters Laboratories certifies manufactured fireplaces.  Underwriters Laboratories is a testing organization that tests and certifies many products for use in residential, commercial and industrial applications.  The UL label is a consumer’s indication that a product has been tested and found safe for use by the consumer.  Specifically, manufactured fireplaces have to meet the requirements of UL 127 before certification is approved by Underwriters Laboratories.  In an effort to safeguard life and property, codes organizations, such as the International Mechanical Code, have incorporated the standard.  Municipalities that adopt the International Mechanical Code use the code as a means to determine if a mechanical installation is safe.

A situation was recently brought to our attention involving an Acucraft manufactured wood-burning fireplace.  The fireplace was purchased for $9000.00 for use in a renovated bonus room.  During the renovation, a structural issue arose that required a building inspector to visit the property.  Upon doing so, it was discovered that a permit for the installation of the fireplace had not been issued by the city.  Upon further inspection, the mechanical code inspector discovered that the fireplace did not meet the code requirement for the fireplace to have been certified according to UL 127.  As a result, work on the project was halted.  The useless fireplace is shown below.

 

Acucraft Uncertified Wood-Burning Fireplace

 

Acucraft was later contacted and verified that their wood-burning fireplaces were NOT subjected to any testing protocol such as UL standard 127.  As a result, the homeowners are left with an expensive fireplace that the local codes department will not approve and therefore cannot be used.  Acucraft wood-burning fireplaces can be seen on their website at www.acucraft.com.  It is understood that Acucraft does not sell its products through a retail network but instead, sells directly to the customer.  Before buying a product, be sure that the product meets applicable code requirements in the local area where it will be installed and that the installing contractor obtains the necessary permit for the installation.

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