Fire Alarms that Fail During Fires by Sure Signal Products

Michael GrossmanNovember 09, 2015 3 minutes

Sure Signal Products issued a recall of around 375,000 heat-activated fire alarms last Thursday, October 29th. Apparently, these marvels of modern engineering have an issue with a fuse that prevents them from going off during a fire, making these items the most fire-alarm looking decorations around.

Who makes this product?

The product is manufactured by Sure Signal Products Inc., of Garden Grove, CA.

Which products are affected?

The affected products are the ThermaLINK QR50, the DeTech FST2004H, The MasterGuard QR50, and the Responsive TR70-R. In total, 375,000 of these units do not function properly. These items were manufactured between January 1, 2004 and July 1, 2015. The actually product number is on the back of the alarm. If your fire alarm looks like any of the ones we have pictured, it is best to remove it to double-check the model number to see if it is covered by the recall.

How widespread is the problem?

There is no indication in which states these products were sold. In a nation of hundreds of millions of fire alarms and smoke detectors, this would seem like a drop in the bucket, but to put the number in perspective, this many fire alarms is slightly smaller than the population of New Orleans. Luckily, no deaths or injuries have been reported because of this problem.

What can be done about it?

If you purchased one of these fire alarms, you are encouraged to contact Sure Signal Products at 855-202-3083 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.(Pacific Time). It looks like they are sending out replacement fuses and instructions on how to replace the fuse. From the instructions on the website, this looks like a really simple fix, even for those who have no mechanical aptitude.

What this means.

The biggest takeaway is that if you are one of the people who have purchased this product, it is something you want to take care of sooner rather than later. Until the fire alarm is repaired, it is pretty much useless. Aside from that, the other big issue is that a company has been manufacturer has been selling a fire alarm that cannot detect fires.

This is not as big an issue as it may seem on the surface, because heat-detecting fire alarms are only supposed to be used as a supplement to smoke detectors. Hopefully, this is why there have not been any reported injuries or deaths involving this product. However, I am sure that most people are unaware of the difference between a heat-detector and a smoke-detector. In those cases, the wrong product can potentially cost lives.

Thankfully, I sometimes engage in culinary adventures and the smoke that accompanies my cooking lets me know that I have a working smoke detector, but I imagine a lot of folks would see one of these fire alarms on the wall or ceiling and mistake it for a smoke detector. In those instances the results could be catastrophic. Sadly, those people could get hurt again if they attempted to recover damages in court, because most fire alarms have a label that reads "not a safety device." Whether this warning would stand up in court is a matter that would likely be decided by a judge or jury.

While these products are sold to supplement a comprehensive fire detection system, their look alone, and the fact they are marketed as "fire alarms," could be very confusing to consumers, even if they actually could detect fires. If you discover that these are your only means of detecting a fire, in addition to contacting the manufacturer to get a replacement fuse, you should invest in a smoke-detector, which despite having more false alarms, is much better at detecting fires in time to save lives.