Weatherford Democrat

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March 11, 2014

Breaker, breaker!

Parker County fire marshal issues warning over certain make of electrical circuit breakers following house fire

By CHRISTIN COYNE

SPRINGTOWN – After finding that a breaker manufactured by a company with a history of issues contributed to a house fire Friday, Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott is urging Parker County residents with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok circuit breakers to call an electrician and get them checked for safety.

The fire in Springtown destroyed a single-wide mobile home in the 300 block of Church Street and everything inside the home.

The woman living in the house was not home at the time the fire started.

“The house contained Federal Pacific Electric breakers,” Scott said. “This house is probably one where I’ve seen the most electrical damage in after a fire.”

The feeder breaker on the outside of the house tripped, but only one of the FPE breakers inside the house tripped, according to Scott, who said the breakers were certainly a contributing factor to the fire.

“Another situation where, we’ve seen time and time again, those Federal Pacific breakers not tripping when they should,” Scott said. “Luckily, the woman living there was not home at the time, but the house was a total loss.”

Issues regarding the breakers have been known for decades, according to news accounts, but the items intended to help prevent residential fires were never recalled.

“They are no longer in business, they are a defunct company because of all the lawsuits they wound up in because of all these defective breakers,” Scott said.

“There are millions of these in the United States,” Scott said, adding that “It’s an accident looking for a place to happen.”

“I’ve been to several fires in the county where FPE breakers were there and, when you see that, you cannot rule out electrical as the potential cause for that fire,” Scott said.

Residents can check their breaker panel for markings indicating Federal Pacific, FPE or Stab-Lok manufactured the item, and those who have defective electric circuit breakers should replace them, according to Scott.

“I would highly encourage anybody that has FPE breakers to get a hold of an electrician and have their stuff checked out because those breakers are a known hazard,” Scott said.

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