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The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), plans to help reduce the potential for unattended cooking fires, using a new test procedure for evaluating sensors and other devices that can prevent the fires.

The group said more than 100 million ranges and cooktops are in use in the United States, and largely without incident. Still, unattended cooking remains the leading cause of household fires in the United States and Canada.

Joseph M. McGuire, AHAM president, said the plan will represent a "leap forward" in product safety, made feasible by recent technology advancements.

"It will take cooperation and collaboration from all stakeholders and ultimately will allow the industry to provide significant safety enhancements to the appliances that consumers rely upon daily,” McGuire said.

By the end of 2014, AHAM will propose to U.S. and Canadian safety standards organizations—UL and the Canadian Standards Association—a test procedure to evaluate sensors and other devices that will prevent cookware from reaching the ignition temperatures associated with common cooking oils.

The new test procedure will apply first to electric cooktop requirements, helping to reduce the potential for surface cooking fires.

The industry will prioritize standards development for electric coil ranges and cooktops, as these represent the majority of cooking-fire-related incidents. Technical and product safety experts in AHAM member companies will work together to determine how similar tests and requirements can be applied to radiant glass ceramic, induction, and gas cooktops and ranges.

AHAM said its members believe a phased approach provides the best balance between protecting consumer interests and continuing to offer high-performance products. The overall plan, coupled with enhanced consumer education and awareness activities, is intended to contribute to a significant reduction in unattended cooking fires. 

AHAM represents a vast majority of kitchen range and cooktop manufacturers that sell in North America.

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