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Family urges greater awareness of faulty appliances following fire death

Ahead of a debate in Parliament today on the product safety system in the UK the family of a man who died following a house fire caused by a faulty component of a fridge freezer have called for greater public awareness of appliances subject to safety notices and stronger measures from manufacturers to alert customers to potential faults.

John Wilson

26 April 2017

The inquest into the death of John Wilson, 63, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, concluded last week that a fault with a Beko fridge-freezer, which was subject to a safety notice, caused the fire that led to John’s death.
 
The inquest was heard on 16th January 2017 and was then adjourned to resume on 11th April 2017 when the conclusion was given at Stockport Coroner’s Court.
 
The fire on 9th August 2016 destroyed the family’s home where John lived with his wife Hazel and daughter Danielle.
 
After all three managed to escape from the house an oxygen tank, which was used by John for medical treatment, exploded. Despite managing to escape, John suffered burns and other injuries and died later in hospital.
 
The family lost all their possessions in the fire and are still staying in temporary accommodation as they wait for their home to be rebuilt.
 
The Coroner heard evidence that the fridge freezer which caused the fire had been subject to a safety notice put in place by Beko in 2011  following a serious fire involving a death.
 
In a statement following the inquest John’s family said:
 
“John Wilson was a beloved husband, father and grandfather who doted on his family. The fire that destroyed our home on 9th August 2016 cruelly took him away from us and we are all still struggling to come to terms with this loss.
 
“We welcome the thorough investigation by the coroner into John’s death which concluded that the fire was caused by a faulty component of a Beko fridge freezer.
  
“If one positive thing could come from John’s death it would be that we could raise awareness of these potentially dangerous appliances in the hope that more people will check the appliances in their homes.
 
“We also hope that as a result of the inquest Beko will put in place stronger measures to ensure that customers who own appliances subject to safety notices are aware of the potential dangers and work to repair or replace them quickly.”
 
James Bolton, of law firm Leigh Day’s product liability and consumer safety team, represented John’s family at the inquest.
 
He said: “Consumers should be able to expect that the appliances they have in their homes are safe. This was sadly not the case for the Wilson family.
 
“It is crucial that manufacturers have effective methods for informing customers of safety notices and recalls and that they are persistent in their attempts to make customers aware of any problems.
 
“As this tragic death has shown the product safety system in the UK is currently ineffective and must be revised. We welcome the debate due to take place in Parliament today regarding the product safety system and we hope that the issues highlighted in this case will prompt the Government to take action.”

Leigh Day also represents a number of the families affected by the fire in a tower block in Shepherd’s Bush in August 2016, which is believed to have been caused by a tumble dryer. Today’s debate in Westminster Hall was secured by their MP, Andy Slaughter, who represents Hammersmith.
 
Details on Beko fridge-freezers subject to safety notice can be found here.

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