Extinguisher man hot over TV programme

By John Maslin

A Wanganui fire-extinguisher supplier says he is being contacted by members of the public concerned about claims made on the TV programme Fair Go.

Ron Richdale, of Richdale Fire and Security, , said the September 19 programme highlighted water foam extinguishers at the expense of dry powder extinguishers.

He described the programme as nothing more than an advertisement for a fire-protection company that appeared to have the full backing of the Fire Protection Association (FPA).

Mr Richdale said the Fire Watch representative managed to "cleverly denigrate" dry powder extinguishers, which make up more than 80 per cent of the extinguishers now in the market and which were regularly serviced.

One segment of the TV show featured a woman using the extinguisher and "waving it around her head and then saying that her eyes were irritated".

"We've been taking calls and receiving emails from concerned customers who now feel they have been sold toxic and dangerous extinguishers," Mr Richdale said.

The Fire Watch rep worked for a company which sold water foam extinguishers in competition with the ABE dry powder extinguishers, he said.

"The multipurpose ABE extinguisher is the only one approved to be used on paper, textiles, plastics and wood (A), burning fuels (B) and electrical (E) fires," he said.

"With all types of extinguishers there is the need for proper training in their use and that doesn't entail firing the extinguisher above and around your head in a small room as demonstrated on the Fair Go programme.

"Used properly, the fire is quickly put out and the operator doesn't come into contact with the powder, nor do they get covered in powder," Mr Richdale said.

He applauded the show for highlighting the fact that not all companies were operating in good faith or were members of the FPA.

He said the FPA had been investigating a scam that had been going on since 2009.

It involved one man going into a store and saying his extinguisher needed a service, taking that cylinder away and charging the store owner $140 a time.

"He's then been going into another store, spinning the same story and taking their extinguisher and replacing it with the one he's removed from the previous store," Mr Richdale said.

But he said the TV programme was not balanced. He said the issue that should have been addressed was the "rip-off merchant" who had been operating around the country.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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