CPSC, BOMA, Central Sprinkler Update Recall of O-ring Sprinklers
Special to CONTRACTOR
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Central Sprinkler Co., an affiliate of Tyco Fire Products of Lansdale, Pa., have modified the O-ring sprinkler voluntary replacement program announced on July 19, 2001.
Under the original recall program, consumers were required to use Central fire sprinkler contractors. Now, after notifying Central in advance and completing certain forms, consumers also can hire their own contractors and be reimbursed for all or some of the labor charges.
In a separate announcement, Central Sprinkler and the Building Owners and Managers Association International in late May jointly announced that they have reached a settlement agreement resolving their lawsuit over Central Sprinkler’s O-ring sprinklers. The agreement gives building owners more choice and flexibility when they participate in the O-ring voluntary replacement program.
The company is replacing 35 million Central fire sprinklers that have O-ring seals. The program also includes a limited number of O-ring models sold by Gem Sprinkler Co. and Star Sprinkler Inc. totaling about 167,000 sprinkler heads.
To date, property owners have filed claims for more than 13 million replacement sprinklers, according to BOMA.
Central initiated the voluntary replacement program in 2001 because it discovered the performance of these O-ring sprinklers could degrade over time. The sprinklers can corrode or minerals, salts and other contaminants in water can affect the rubber O-ring seals. As a result, the sprinklers may not activate in a fire.
Building owners participating in the program will receive free Belleville seal replacement sprinklers, a model that does not contain O-ring seals.
Central is providing free-of-charge replacement sprinkler heads and the labor needed to replace the sprinklers. As before, Central Sprinkler will arrange for the installation by using either its own Central Field Service crews or by contracting with professional sprinkler contractors.
Consumers now have the option to arrange to have the free replacement sprinklers installed themselves rather than waiting for Central to set up the installation. Subject to certain conditions, including advance notice to Central, verification of the replacements and return of the removed sprinklers, Central will provide either full or partial reimbursement for labor charges.
The program enhancements announced as part of the BOMA settlement include:
- Building owners may now choose to have the sprinklers replaced on their own, using independent sprinkler contractors they hire. If building owners select this option, Central Sprinkler will pay them a fixed-amount cash alternative toward labor costs.
- For building owners who elect to have Central Sprinkler perform the replacement work, Central Sprinkler will use sprinkler contractors with security bonding whenever that building owner’s lease or management agreement requires such bonding.
- Central Sprinkler will provide up to $75 to reimburse permit fees that some building owners have paid in jurisdictions that require a permit fee before a sprinkler head can be changed.
- An independent ombudsman has been appointed to assist claimants and to resolve differences that might arise between property owners and Central.
- Reimbursement will be available for certain claims and costs incurred by building owners who replaced their O-ring sprinklers during the period of February 2000 up until July 19, 2001, when the voluntary replacement program was launched.
Building owners and homeowners should check their fire sprinklers to see if they are part of the program. More information is available by calling the CPSC Notice Packet Request Line at 800/871-3492, or from the program’s Web site at www.SprinklerReplacement.com.
More information is also available at Central’s toll-free Customer Hotline at 866/505-8553, or at BOMA International’s Web site at www.boma.org.