Select committee slams manufacturer over tumble dryer fires
16 January 2018
LONDON FIRE Brigade has welcomed calls for Whirlpool to take urgent action on potentially dangerous tumble dryers which remain in homes across the UK.
A report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee has condemned Whirlpool’s response to safety issues with the estimated one million machines and branded it as “inadequate”. The report reflects safety concerns raised by London Fire Brigade for a number of years.
It is believed around one million tumble dryers with an identified defect, which have caused around 750 fires in the UK since 2004, remain in homes across the country. The committee want Whirlpool to fix or replace the faulty machines within two weeks of being notified by the consumer.
BEIS select committee chair Rachel Reeves said: "Whirlpool's woeful response to the defect in its tumble dryers has caused huge worry to people with these appliances in their homes.
"Their delayed and dismissive response to correcting these defects has been inadequate and we call on Whirlpool to resolve issues urgently."
On average, there is one fire involving white goods in London every day. LFB deputy assistant commissioner Charlie Pugsley, who gave evidence at the committee on behalf of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), said: “Without urgent action from Whirlpool and other manufacturers, lives and homes are being put at risk by faulty appliances.
“It is promising to see that the BEIS committee is backing what London Fire Brigade has been saying for years. In particular that we want to see a single register database for consumers to check if their products have been recalled, manufacturers publishing risk assessments and a Government response to the working group report on product safety which was set up after a number of white goods fires.
“Whirlpool updated its advice to tell consumers not to use their tumble dryers until fixed, after pressure from the Brigade and other agencies and are now telling people to stop using appliances if there is a known fault. It is now time for the Government to take action to make sure consumers are safe in their own homes.”
The BEIS committee also found that there has been a “painfully slow” response from the Government with regards to creating a single product recall database and has called for it to respond to an independent review on product safety, which was carried out nearly two years ago, by the end of February.
As part of the Total Recalls campaign, the Brigade has called on the government and manufacturers for the last two years to implement procedures including:
- A single, publicly accessible register of product recalls - There is no single, government supported register that currently exists. Instead consumers must either check individual manufacturer's websites or use a voluntary service, such as the Electrical Safety First recall register;
- Include international recalls on the UK recall register - At the moment, if a product is recalled due to a fault in another country, and you own exactly same model in the UK, the manufacturers don't have to send out a recall notice in the UK;
- Publicise recalls better to reduce confusion - At present, there are no minimum requirements regarding the levels of publicity required for a product recall. How much or how little promotion is decided by the manufacturers;
- Risk assessments to be publish when a fault is identified – Currently when a fault is found with a component in an appliance, manufacturers do not have to publish anything about how they decide what action needs to be taken;
- Greater regulation of second hand appliances - People buying secondhand electrical goods may already be the most vulnerable and at risk of fire; and
- Marking all appliances with model and serial number – We want all white goods to be marked with the model and/or serial number so it can be properly identified after a fire.