Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
August 24, 2017

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Faulty white goods will lead to fatalities unless government acts on LFB recommendations, letter signed by London Mayor warns

Faulty white goods will cause more fire-related deaths unless ministers act on recommendations made by the London Fire Brigade (LFB), according to a letter signed by the London Mayor and several safety organisations.

Sent to Theresa May, the letter raises concerns about the flammable plastic backing that is still often attached to many fridges and freezers when sold to consumers.

Product recalls are also ineffective, it says, because many people continue to use them.

The letter also refers to a tower block fire traced to a faulty Indesit dryer that took place a year ago in west London.

The incident, which resulted in no injuries but took 120 firefighters to extinguish, prompted the LFB to issue a series of safety recommendations. A year later and none of the recommendations have been acted on, the letter says.

The government is due to respond to the recommendations later this year.

“Very little protection”

The letter says: “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.”

In March 2016, we reported that faulty tumble dryers that were deemed a fire risk could be in use for another nine months after Whirlpool said some repairs might have to wait until January 2017. Whirpool risked further anger by advising consumers that they could continue to use the machines so long as they cleaned the lint filter after every cycle and didn’t leave dryers unattended during operation.

Three UK fires a day involve tumble dryers – 2,170 since 2010 – and the Grenfell Tower blaze was traced to a faulty fridge.

LFB has urged the government to create a single register of product recalls and publish it on its website. It also wants risk assessments – including “sleeping risk” – published when a fault is identified.

The letter was signed by London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Fire Brigades Union, the National Fire Chiefs Council and the charity Electrical Safety First.

A father died having saved his children from a fire caused by a faulty fridge-freezer – made by Beko – in November 2010. Santosh Benjamin-Muthiah was overcome by smoke at his home in Wealdstone, north London after helping his two daughters – aged three and three months – escape through a window.

However, the recommendations to improve product recalls made by the coroner at the inquest have resulted in “no substantial changes”, according to the fire service.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan 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.”

However, Consumer Minister Margot James said the government already has a “robust system” to inform people of faulty goods. “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,” she added.

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