The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has sent an open letter to the Prime Minister asking for changes to be made in relation to the safety of white goods. The LFB is concerned about the number of people across the UK continuing to use faulty white goods, some of which are subject to corrective action or safety notices.
The LFB has stated that three fires a day in the UK involve tumble dryers, whilst one fire a day in London involves white goods. Similarly, Electrical Safety First estimates that across England, five fires a day are caused by white goods. Government data further estimates that 7% of fires caused by faulty appliances are caused by fridge freezers, fridges or freezers.
There have been a number of significant fires in recent years caused by white goods. The source of the Grenfell Tower fire in June is believed to be a fridge freezer. Similarly, there was a major fire in Shepherd’s Court last August, which was caused by a faulty tumble dryer. In 2010, a faulty fridge freezer caused a fire at a family home, which resulted in Coroner Walker recommending measures to improve product recalls. As a result of Coroner Walker’s recommendations, an independent review of the product recall system in the UK was published in February 2016. A further list of recommendations was later published in July 2017 by the working group in response to the Shepherd’s Court fire. However, despite the creation of a Steering Group and a Working Group, the LFB contends that “no substantial changes” have occurred.
Lynn Faulds-Wood, who led the independent review, further criticised the Government for not doing enough to protect consumers. In its letter to the Prime Minister, the LFB has called for a single register for UK product recalls, so as to allow consumers to easily check their white goods. At present, it is estimated that the success rate for electrical product recalls is only 10-20%. The current Government webpage for product recalls has been criticised by the LFB as being difficult to manoeuvre, as there is no search option and users are directed to third party websites.
The LFB also asks for higher standards to be implemented in the manufacturing of white goods. The letter specifically requests that manufacturers cease to produce fridges and freezers with flammable plastic backing. The UK industry watchdog “Which?” has also called for change, stating that the current British standards are “deficient and inadequate”.
The LFB has also recommended that all appliances should be marked with a model or serial number so that they can be identified in a fire.