Two men died in a flat fire above a funeral director’s office in Llanrwst, Wales, in October 2014. A pre-inquest hearing in May 2016 was told the fire started in a tumble dryer. A full inquest is due to be held later this year.
Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Fire Service Management Committee has said in a recent LGA press release that: “People using faulty tumble dryers are unwittingly playing Russian roulette”. He called upon leading manufacturers “to recall affected models as soon as possible to protect their customers”.
Government statistics show that there were 2,190 tumble dryer fires between 2012 and 2014 (equating to three a day) and the LGA is calling on manufacturers to recall affected tumble dryers, rather than running lengthy repair programmes, which it says are putting the lives of millions of customers at risk. It is also calling for all white goods to have fire-proof markings on them, including the manufacturer, model and serial number, so they can be identified more easily if they are damaged after causing a fire.
Research undertaken by Which? says that it could take Whirlpool more than three-and-a-half years to service and modify all of its fire-risk vented and consumer tumble dryers. It reported that 5.3m fire-risk dryers were sold to UK consumers between 2004 and 2015, made up of 127 models from Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline.
Whirlpool told Which? That its “engineers are modifying 4,300 tumble dryers per day and have resolved 310,000 cases so far. It says that 1.4m customers have registered to have their machines serviced and it has contacted 3.5m customers. Whirlpool also says that, by its calculations, well over one million of the 5.3m fire-risk dryers would have already been replaced or taken out of service, ‘in line with industry wide obsolescence rates’ since 2004.”
In response to such statistics, the Retail Ombudsman has recently launched “UK Recall”, an online registration system for electrical appliances, so that it might maintain a central register of electrical appliances owned by consumers.
Users will be kept informed of any recall or safety alerts affecting their appliances and can also search the database of recalls.