CPSC Sues Sunbeam Corporation, Grucon Corporation, and Subsidiaries Over Defective Star Fire Sprinklers

October 11, 2002
Release Number: 02013

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today its staff filed an administrative Complaint (pdf) against Sunbeam Corporation and its subsidiaries Chemetron Corporation and Chemetron Investments, Inc., of Boca Raton, Florida, and Grucon Corporation and its subsidiary Sprinkler Corporation of Milwaukee, Inc., of Wisconsin. The CPSC's three Commissioners voted unanimously to authorize the issuance of the Complaint. The Complaint alleges that Star Sprinkler's model ME-1 fire sprinkler made from 1977 through 1995 presents a substantial product hazard. The Complaint seeks a nationwide recall of the approximately 700,000 Star ME-1's Star Sprinkler manufactured during this period.

In its Complaint, the CPSC staff alleges that these sprinklers are defective and are likely to fail to operate properly in a fire, thus exposing the public to serious injury or death. The sprinklers have been installed in day care centers, nursing homes, health care facilities, supermarkets, and other buildings. The CPSC staff is aware of a nursing home fire in which three Star ME-1's reportedly failed to operate.

The CPSC staff filed the Complaint after discussions with the companies failed to result in a voluntary recall and replacement plan. In seeking a recall of the Star ME-1 sprinklers, the Complaint calls for extensive public notice of the hazard and remedy.

The CPSC previously announced that Mealane Corporation voluntarily recalled Star ME-1's manufactured from 1975 through 1976. In addition, Central Sprinkler Company voluntarily recalled Star ME-1's manufactured from 1996 through 1998. Consumers can obtain information about those recalls at CPSC's web site: 99-152 and 01-201.

While the CPSC staff pursues an acceptable recall and replacement plan, consumers with Star ME-1 sprinklers should be sure to have at least one fully operational smoke detector on very floor of their home, especially near bedrooms. The CPSC staff also recommends that consumers have a well-defined and rehearsed escape plan and an alternate escape plan in the event of a fire. As always, consumers should diligently practice fire safety to reduce the possibility that a fire will occur. Consumers can obtain fire safety information by calling CPSC's toll-free hotline at (800) 638-2772 or by visiting CPSC's web site where fire safety publications are provided.

The CPSC staff urges anyone who is aware of any instances in which a Star ME-1 sprinkler has failed to operate properly when tested or in a fire to report that information to the CPSC using CPSC's on-line reporting form. If you have questions, send an email to info@cpsc.gov or call CPSC's toll-free Hotline at (800) 638-2772.