Update: Circuit Breaker Replacements - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Update: Circuit Breaker Replacements

Now a story you'll see only on 7: Big changes in the works as a result of a Hank investigation. The city of Boston is about to spend up to 15 million dollars to fix a problem--a problem Hank uncovered last month! Potentially dangerous circuit breaker boxes in Boston public housing units...Hank Investigates the latest.

Hank: "So this one has it, this one has it, all the way down the hall."

Hugh Donovan, Boston Housing Authority: "Yes."

Pick any corridor, pick any apartment in any of these seven Boston Housing Authority developments..

Hank: "So the units are in the kitchens?"

...and in the kitchen is a circuit-breaker box like this. They all have them--almost a thousand apartments! And that--is the problem.

Hank: "So you've decided to replace these."

Hugh Donovan, Boston Housing Authority: "Yes."

Why?

Last month, we showed you these specific circuit breaker boxes - boxes that experts say are often defective and dangerous because they can start a fire instead of preventing one.

The boxes were made by Federal Pacific Electric - a company that is now out of business - and they say *Stab Lok* on the label.

The whole point of a circuit breaker is to cut the power when the electrical system in your house is overloading. But experts say sometimes these FPE boxes just don't do it. So the power surges thru the box - and can spark a fire. Investigators say that's what happened at these buildings in Longmeadow and Warren Mass and this one in Dallas, Texas.

FPE boxes were installed in millions of homes and apartments between 1960 and 1980. And many electricians say if there's one in your home - you should replace it.

Dr. Jesse Aaronstein, Ph.D, Electrical Engineer: "Problem is you can't tell from looking whether the breaker inside is defective."

Now we've learned from the Boston Housing Authority that FPE Stab-Loks are in every unit in Jamaica Plain's Amory Street development; Roxbury's Holgate, West Roxbury's Rockland Towers, Mattapan's Groveland, Roslindale's Archdale, and Brighton's Patricia White and JJ Carroll developments.

After our story, the city's going to replace them all.

Hugh Donovan, Boston Housing Authority: "The housing authority has decided to err on the side of caution and remove these panels."

Those who live here are glad.

Felipe Garcia, Boston Housing Authority Tenant "I think it's a good idea to replace them all."

Michael Ortiz, Boston Housing Authority Tenant: "I think its better that we're gonna be safer so there's no fire hazards."

There are so many breaker boxes in these developments that BHA officials say it could take several years to get them all replaced and could cost 15-million dollars to do it. If you want more info on how to check if one of these boxes is in your home click here:http://ismypanelsafe.com/files/FPECircuitBreakerHazards070525.pdf

(Copyright (c) 2012 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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