The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has fined the Fisher-Price division of Mattel $1.1 million for failing to report serious safety defects with Power Wheels toy vehicles. It's the largest fine against a toy firm in CPSC's history.

Fisher-Price allegedly failed to report 116 fires involving the vehicles and more than 1,800 incidents of the vehicles' electrical components overheating, short-circuiting, melting or failing. These incidents resulted in at least nine minor burn injuries to children, and up to $300,000 in property damage to 22 houses and garages. Additionally, Fisher-Price was aware of at least 71 incidents involving the products' failure to stop, resulting in six minor injuries.

Fisher-Price recalled up to 10 million Power Wheels ride-on vehicles on October 22, 1998. The recalled cars and trucks were sold under nearly 100 model names. Power Wheels cars and trucks are intended for children 2 to 7 years old. Toy and mass merchandise stores nationwide sold the recalled vehicles from 1984 through October 1998 for $70 to $300. For more information about the recall, consumers should call Fisher-Price at (800) 977-7800 anytime.

Under federal law, companies are required to report to CPSC if they obtain information that reasonably suggests that their products could present a substantial risk of injury to consumers, or creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. CPSC charges Fisher-Price failed to report to CPSC in a timely manner, as required by the Consumer Product Safety Act, that its "Power Wheels" ride-on toy vehicles presented fire hazards and failed to stop.

"Firms are required by law to report safety hazards to CPSC so products can be recalled to prevent serious injuries from occurring," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Fisher-Price knew about hundreds of problems with Power Wheels, yet did nothing for years. This fine is a loud-and-clear message to all firms that failing to report product defects will not be tolerated."

Fisher-Price denied the allegations and denied it knowingly violated the Consumer Product Safety Act.