At a recent meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group of Home Electrical Safety, newly re-elected Chair Carolyn Harris MP along with cross party colleagues from both houses discussed the wholly inadequate actions taken by the manufacturer Whirlpool to deal with the issue of fire risk tumble dryers. These products have been catching fire due to a design fault in those built between 2004 and 2015.
It is estimated that there are at least three million households in the UK at risk due to the presence of one of the many identified models of faulty Whirlpool tumble dryer.
This issue first came to light in November 2015 when Whirlpool revealed that 5.3 million dryers sold under the Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda brands between 2004 and September 2015 could be at risk of catching fire if excess fluff comes into contact with the heating element in the tumble dryer.
It has been 16 months since the announcement of this safety notice and there are still fires being caused by these faulty machines. Whirlpool have now advised all customers who are awaiting a repair to unplug their faulty machine and stop using it immediately. This is a significant change to their previous advice, Whirlpool is now acknowledging the serious threat these faulty machines pose to safety.
Whirlpool, who had been invited to the meeting to discuss the on-going issue with MPs, declined to attend instead opting to send a letter updating the group on the current situation via their PR agency. In the letter, Whirlpool said that it was pleased to confirm that its modification programme had improved and the company had resolved just over one third of the fire risk dryers. The company also reported that almost 3 million people had not yet registered their faulty tumble dryer. This leaved 3 million households in the UK susceptible to fire.
Tumble dryers now account for 31% of domestic fires with Government figures showing that between 2012 and 2014 there were 2,190 fires equivalent to three a day caused by dryers. A faulty Whirlpool tumble dryer was responsible for a fire in a seventh floor flat in London last August taking 120 fire fighters to bring it under control. Thankfully there were no fatalities despite the number of families affected on the floors above. Following this, local Shepherds Bush MP Andy Slaughter started a petition online to secure a debate in Westminster which would force the Government to respond. More information on the petition can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/169835.
Speaking at the AGM, newly re-elected Chair, Carolyn Harris MP commented:
“From my work as Shadow Home Office Minister for Fire I know it is more important than ever the Government takes this issue seriously to protect consumers”.
“It is a miracle that none of the fires so far have killed and we need to see action now to make sure that people are safe in their own homes.”
“I know of cases all over the country where these dryer fires have destroyed homes. It is only a matter of time before one of these dryers takes a life. I along with the other members of the APPG want to see the Government putting more pressure on Whirlpool to protect the 3 million customers still in danger and see Whirlpool finally issue a full recall of these lethal machines.”
“There are still many people out there who may have one of these ticking time bombs in their hose unknowingly. Whirlpool need to do a lot more to ensure these people are protected from a dangerous product which they put on the market.”
The APPG fully supports the e-petition started by my colleague Andy Slaughter and I would encourage everyone to sign and help raise awareness of this issue. ”
“If we fail to act fast, it won’t only be possessions a family will lose.”
Andy Vaughan Davies, Fire Investigation Unit at London Fire Brigade added:
“Whirlpool has finally brought its advice in line with our own which we have longed called for in our Total Recalls campaign.
“We attend nearly one fire a day involving white goods and strongly believe that if your appliance is subject to a safety or recall notice or you think there is something wrong with it you should unplug it immediately.
“We welcome the work Carolyn Harris MP and the All party group have done and we will continue to call on the Government and manufacturers to implement key changes to protect consumers from potentially lethal appliances.”
The APPG appreciates Whirlpool are providing free engineer visits to modify the affected machines, these are not being completed quickly enough. There are still hundreds of thousands of people waiting for this service, which we’ve had reports might not be working as some machines could still be causing fires.
The threat to public safety in this issue is massive and the APPG calls on the Government to put pressure on Whirlpool to start a full product recall.