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Consumer safety lawyer backs call for action on dangerous tumble dryers

The Local Government Association has called on manufacturers to recall some appliances

Appliance fire

20 June 2016

Appliance fire lawyer Jill Paterson has backed the Local Government Association (LGA)’s call for kitchen appliance manufacturers to recall faulty tumble dryers.

The LGA represents 48 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales who have reported that they are attending three fires a day caused by dangerous tumble dryers which are prone to fire.  The appliances have been linked to thousands of fires caused by fluff coming into contact with heating elements.

Government fire statistics for Great Britain:  2013 – 2014 report that 973 fires were caused by tumble dryers, the figures for 2012 – 2013 report even higher figures, 1,217, for tumble dryers being the source of the fire. Other appliances that caused fires in 2013 – 2014 were 502 for dishwashers, 518 for fridges and freezers, and 724 for washing machines.

Case studies highlighted by the LGA include:
  • A family in Morecambe whose tumble dryer burst into flames while they were asleep
  • Two people needing treatment following a house fire in Preston
  • A mother with two children who had to flee her Nottingham flat after her tumble dryer burst into flames as she was loading it
  • A mother and two young daughters from Essex who were left homeless after their tumble dryer caught fire and caused thousands of pounds worth of damages.  They were woken from their sleep by their smoke alarm.
  • The death of two men who died in a flat fire in Llanrwst in October 2014. A pre-inquest hearing into their deaths was told that the fire started in a tumble dryer

The Association notes that many manufacturers are running repair programmes with lengthy waiting lists, rather than recalling potentially hazardous machines, and is calling on manufacturers to recall the affected tumble dryers.

The LGA has also called for all white goods to include fire-proof markings which would list the manufacturer, model and serial number, thereby allowing fire investigators to identify which models are causing fires.

Similar recommendations were made by Coroner Andrew Walker at the inquest into the death of Santosh Benjamin who died when a Beko fridge freezer caught fire in his home.  Mr Benjamin died as he saved his two children from the subsequent house fire.

Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the LGA's Fire Services Management Committee, said:

"People using faulty tumble dryers are unwittingly playing Russian roulette and leading manufacturers need to recall affected models as soon as possible to protect their customers.”

This announcement from the LGA follows the publication of an Independent Recall Review, a review produced by consumer campaigners Lynn Faulds Wood, at the invitation of the Government.

The review made a number of recommendations to help improve the way in which unsafe consumer products are identified and removed from the market.

The Government’s response to the Review was to set up a steering group, made up of industry and consumer representatives.

Appliance fire lawyer Jill Paterson, who acted for the family of Santosh Benjamin, said:

“I have seen at first hand the emotional and physical devastation wreaked by house fires caused by faulty kitchen appliances.

“Manufacturers of dangerous appliances must do more to speed up their repair programmes and to warn consumers about the potential dangers of their appliances.

“It is not enough just to tell consumers not to use their machines, or to tell people not to use them at night, or when they are out of the house.

“Consumers expect that the day-to-day appliances that they buy are safe to use.

“The recommendations made by Lynn Faulds-Wood should now be taken more seriously and steps should be taken to implement them straight away.

“I fully support the actions that the LGA has suggested and hope that appliance manufacturers take immediate action.”

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