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Firestone Says No Recall Necessary

July 19, 2001

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. will not issue a broader recall of Firestone tires, saying Thursday the federal government has failed to show that other tires made by the company pose a danger to motorists.

The tire maker recalled 6.5 million tires last August after determining they had a high rate of failure. Since then, federal safety officials have been reviewing the safety of millions of other Firestone tires.

``If one of our tires might jeopardize that safety, then we’ll take it off the road. We’ve done it before and, if it becomes necessary, we’ll do it again. But that is simply not the case here,″ Bridgestone/Firestone CEO John Lampe said in a statement.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had not publicly called for a broader recall, but Bridgestone/Firestone spokeswoman Jill Bratina said at a meeting Thursday agency officials pressed the tire maker to voluntarily do so. Bratina said Bridgestone/Firestone refused and the talks ended.

The agency can order a broader recall. Bratina said the tire maker would challenge such a move in court.

NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson had no immediate comment. At least 203 deaths and more than 700 injuries have been linked to Firestone tire failures in the United States. Many involved rollovers of the highly popular Ford Explorer, which used the tires as standard equipment.

Because of accident reports, Bridgestone/Firestone recalled 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires. Ford said in May it would replace an additional 13 million Wilderness AT tires because of safety concerns.

Bridgestone/Firestone has acknowledged problems with the recalled tires, but says the Explorer design is partly responsible for the accidents.

``We now know this to be a fact: You can take every Firestone tire off every Explorer and the rollovers and fatal accidents will continue,″ Lampe said.

That claim, strongly rejected by Ford officials, prompted the automaker to end a centurylong relationship with Bridgestone/Firestone.

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