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Which? has found that washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers pose greatest fire risk

A study by the consumer group Which? Has found that washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers pose the greatest risk of household fires.

Dishwasher fire photo: istock

19 September 2013

Consumer group Which? analysed fire service data gathered over a two year period showing washing machines caused 14% of fires categorised as due to a faulty appliance, followed by tumble dryers (12%) and dishwashers (11%).

Ovens were responsible for 8% of the fires, while televisions and microwaves each made up 3%, followed by electric blankets (2%) and irons (1%).

According to the figures, around 3,700 fires have been caused each year as a result of faulty appliances.

Which? said some brands appeared to cause a higher number of fires than others, naming Hoover and Candy washing machines and Hotpoint dishwashers and tumble dryers.

Hotpoint issued a public safety notice relating to its FDW20, 60 and 65A dishwashers earlier this year, saying it was "aware of a small number of cases of dishwashers when an electrical component has failed", adding that "this may lead to overheating and in rare cases a potential fire hazard".

However, Which? said it found that there were as many instances of fires recorded relating to Hotpoint's DWF3 dishwasher range, which has not been recalled.

Which? said Hotpoint had informed it that an assessment of the model had found the risk of fire to be very low.

Which? said it was not possible to say "beyond doubt" which brands were most likely to catch fire because most fires were never forensically investigated, adding that the fire officer decided the cause and in some cases did not record details such as the manufacturer of the appliance or the model number.

The watchdog found that a quarter (23%) of consumers have owned a product that was subject to a recall or safety notice.

Just over half (58%) were sent information directly from the manufacturer, while 67% of those that received information contacted the company for a repair or refund and a quarter (23%) stopped using the product or threw it away.

But 5% continued to use the product.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "It's shocking that everyday household appliances can pose such a danger. People's safety must be the priority, so manufacturers should act fast to recall products as soon as they realise they're faulty.

Leigh Day Partner Jill Paterson, who represents a number of people who have suffered devastating house fires linked to recalled white goods, said:

“Products that pose a serious fire risk should not be getting on to the market in the first place. In the unfortunate circumstances where they do, manufacturers should be doing everything possible to ensure that they mount effective recall campaigns to warn the public of the dangers and to encourage corrective action. One fire linked to a faulty appliance is one fire too many.”

Families represented by Leigh Day are campaigning for tougher regulation of household appliances through the recently launched Facebook group, ‘Expect it’s safe’.

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