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Backcountry users encouraged to check safety gear after avalanche transceiver recalls

Black Diamond issued a voluntary recall for PIEPS and Black Diamond branded beacons on July 28, following BCA's voluntary recall of its Tracker4 transceivers in June.

Backcountry users are encouraged to pull their winter safety kits out of storage this summer after a series of voluntary recalls were issued for avalanche transceivers sold in Canada.

Black Diamond Equipment announced a North America-wide voluntary recall of its PIEPS and Black Diamond branded avalanche transceivers on July 28, with affected models including the PIEPS Pro BT, Powder BT, DSP Sport, DSP Pro, DSP Pro Ice, Micro Button BT, Micro BT Sensor and Micro BT Race avalanche transceivers and the Black Diamond branded Recon BT and Guide BT beacons.

Black Diamond's recall was issued in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada following a Safety Check Notice that was previously announced in April of this year, when the company said it first identified an issue with the products used to help locate backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers in the event of an avalanche.

This comes following a similar voluntary recall of Backcountry Access (BCA) Tracker4 Avalanche Transceivers issued on June 2.

Consumers who own one of the above-listed avalanche transceivers should immediately stop using the beacon and perform a safety check to verify whether their device is affected. 

According to Black Diamond, the decision to recall its products comes down to a "material handling / assembly anomaly" in the products' manufacturing that prevents some avalanche transceivers from switching into search mode. "If this were to occur in the field, the user would potentially be unable to locate a buried victim, which could result in a prolonged burial, and possible injury or death of the victim,"  the equipment company explained in the recall notice.

All units included in Black Diamond's recall are plastic with an LCD screen and measure approximately 12 centimetres long by seven cm wide. The colours vary by model and have PIEPS or the Black Diamond logo printed on the front of the unit, with the model name printed on the front or back of the beacon.

The company reported that 21,351 units of affected products were sold in Canada, in addition to approximately 74,432 sold in the U.S. between January 2013 and June 2022. As of June 10, 2022, the company has received two reports of product failure in Canada and 26 in the United States, according to Health Canada, with no reports of injuries of either country.

In the case of BCA's Tracker4s, the transceiver's toggle switch—responsible for selecting transmit mode, search mode, or turning off the device—may separate from the product, similarly preventing the transceiver from switching modes after an avalanche, hindering the search and rescue process. As of May 26, BCA has received no reports of incidents or injuries in either Canada or the United States. The transceivers are yellow and black and were sold as a Tracker4 Rescue Package. Only 41 units of the affected product were sold in Canada, according to the company, while approximately 6,918 were sold in the U.S. between July 2021 and February 2022.

To determine if a Tracker4 unit is affected, consumers should look for a serial number inside the battery door. If the serial number begins with 21H05 or 21H06, BCA will replace the unit for free.

Black Diamond has provided a set of instructions it's asking consumers to follow to make sure their device switches from "send" to "search" mode properly. If transceiver owners find one of those modes to be malfunctioning, the affected device should no longer be used and must be returned immediately to Black Diamond for repair or replacement free of charge, the company explains.

Black Diamond advises transceiver users to follow best practices and always check both "send" and "search" functions on their safety device prior to heading out.

Transceiver owners should also note that the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act prohibits recalled products from "being redistributed, sold or even given away in Canada."

Questions can be directed to Black Diamond at 866-306-0865 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. PST Monday through Friday, or by email at [email protected]. To register for a free BCA replacement unit, complete the Tracker4 Recall Replacement Form.