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26 June 2012, 10:57
3,000 homes across Cambridgeshire have been fitted with smoke alarms that could start fires by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The 'Fire Angel' smoke alarms contain lithium batteries which have the potential to short-circuit and overheat if they are mechanically damaged, according to the service.
However the service also adds that the potential for the alarms to catch fire is 'extremely small', and there is a greater risk from residents to tamper with or remove the alarms, which would leave them without an early warning of a fire.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed it has already written to every household that has been fitted with one of the alarms.
A dedicated phone number has been set up for people who are still concerned about the faulty fire alarms: 0800 141 2561.
Cambridgeshire's Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: "It is very important to stress that the potential for fire is extremely small and could only occur if the battery was dislodged, and as a result suffered a lasting short circuit which would cause it to overheat.
The problem identified is a well known and documented issue with all Lithium batteries, which carry an inherent risk of overheating if they are short circuited.
The affected detectors carry a potential risk because of the way the batteries are secured.
A detector would need to be broken apart for the battery to be dislodged and then come to rest in a position where a short circuit across the positive and negative terminals occurred.
Despite the extremely unlikely risk of an incident occurring, CFRS has taken proactive action over the last few months to contact every affected household to replace smoke detectors.
We have done this because we believe that any risk, however small, should be completely removed.
We have also worked closely with the manufacturer to ensure that the risk of battery short circuit in new batches of the smoke detectors has been completely removed."
We are currently awaiting a comment from Fire Angel.