Thousands of dangerous white goods still used in homes warns fire service

Thousands of dangerous white goods are still being used in homes, with around three UK fires a day involving tumble dryers ...
Thousands of dangerous white goods are still being used in homes, with around three UK fires a day involving tumble dryers ...

More people will die from fires started by faulty white goods if the Government does not implement safety recommendations made over a year ago, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) warned.

Thousands of dangerous white goods are still being used in homes, with around three UK fires a day involving tumble dryers, a series of safety bodies warned in a letter to Prime Minister May.

The fire service said it was "extremely concerned" that despite a review into the UK's product recall system being launched in 2014 and several fatal fires, "no substantial changes" have been made.

The intervention comes 12 months on from a tower block fire in Shepherds Court, west London, which destroyed the homes and possessions of a number of families and prompted the LFB's recommendations.

The investigation showed it was caused by a faulty Indesit tumble dryer, which was then subject to "corrective action", the LFB said.

And it follows the devastating Grenfell Tower fire just two months ago, which started in a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer and gutted the high-rise block, killing at least 80.

The letter reads: "A year on people across the UK are still using white goods that pose a serious fire risk and are subject to recall or corrective action.

"Worse still, some fridges and freezers are still being produced with a flammable plastic backing, which offers very little protection against the insulation foam inside catching alight if a fire starts.

"We are deeply concerned that, a year after Shepherds Court, decisive action is still needed to improve product recalls and manufacturing standards for white goods in the UK."

Excluding the Grenfell death toll, which is yet to be finalised, there have been nine fire deaths and 298 injuries from fires involving white goods in London, the Brigade said.

These include Santosh Benjamin Muthiah, who died after saving his wife and two children from a fire which was caused by a faulty Beko fridge freezer, the LFB said.

The coroner at his inquest recommended a series of measures to improve product recalls in 2014 which are also still to be acted on.

A working group set up after the Shepherds Court fire has also recently recommended a series of measures which the letter - signed by LFB Commissioner Dany Cotton, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and representatives from the Fire Brigades Union, National Fire Chiefs Council and Electrical Safety First - wants the Government to "swiftly act" on.

The Government is due to respond to these in autumn.

The Brigade wants the Government to host a single publicly accessible register of product recalls on its website, which will also include international recalls.

The LFB also wants risk assessments to be published when a fault is identified and for the "sleeping risk" to be included in these assessments.

Flammable insulation material should be protected from the components in the appliance which could cause a fire, the letter says.

Ms Cotton said she wanted businesses to step up, adding: "All new refrigeration and freezing appliances should have a non-combustible backing as standard."

Mr Khan said the Government's delay in implementing the LFB's recommendations was "inexcusable".

He said: "The terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower in June is a stark reminder of just how devastating a fire caused by faulty white goods can be.

"Now, a year since the tragic fire in Shepherd's Bush which led to these important recommendations, the Government and manufacturers must urgently act to help prevent any further tragedies and keep Londoners safe."

Consumer Minister Margot James said: "The Government's top priority is to keep people safe and we've already put a robust system in place so people know if faulty products need to be repaired or replaced.

"Our one stop shop Product Recall website makes it clear to the public which white goods are safe to use at home and we are considering the framework for a national body to support consumers on product safety."

A list of white goods recalled since 2010 can be found here