Snowmass fire officials warn against ‘toe-kick’ heater danger
The Snowmass and Basalt Fire Protection District is encouraging all residents and homeowners to inspect any type of “toe-kick” heaters installed in their properties.
This is in response to the aftermath of two structure fires in Snowmass Village in recent years. One fire occurred in 2011 in a local condominium complex and another in February 2014. Both caused significant damage and were attributed to the “toe-kick” cabinet heater installed at the base of bathroom cabinets. The investigation and laboratory analysis of one of the heaters involved is ongoing by the respective insurance company investigators.
During the course of the department’s fire investigations, it has learned that a “toe-kick” style cabinet heater manufactured by Berko Electric were recalled. These Berko heaters were distributed and installed in residences from 1980 through 1985. The recall affected about 84,000 units.
Fire officials asked that residents note that only one of the “toe-kick” style heaters attributed to the Snowmass Village structure fires appears to come from the manufacturer of those units recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, immediate inspection of all such “toe-kick” style heaters should be the rule.
If this type of heater fan stops working, and the heater continues to run, the unit can overheat, posing a fire hazard. If you suspect that a particular heater in your home has been recalled or is not functioning properly, contact a licensed electrician for assistance.
After making sure that the heater is in the off position at the fuse panel, a visual inspection and cleaning of any “toe-kick” heater grill is recommended. Make sure to also allow unobstructed heated airflow from all heaters by avoiding any buildup of rugs, towels or other items that may block the front of the heater thereby preventing full heat output. All suspected malfunctions or any disassembly of all heaters should be performed only by a licensed electrician.
For additional recall information, visit http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2007/Berko-Electric-Toe-Space-Heaters-Recalled-Due-to-Fire-Hazard/. Also, call the Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District at 970-923-2212.
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