London Fire Brigade is urging people to immediately stop using tumble dryers that are subject to product recall or safety notices following a huge tower block blaze in Shepherd’s Bush on Friday.
Fire investigators say the blaze which ripped through the 18 storey high rise and took 120 firefighters to put out was believed to be caused by a faulty Indesit tumble dryer which was subject to ‘corrective action’ by the manufacturer and due to be attended by an engineer.
The Brigade, which recently launched it’s Total Recalls campaign to improve white goods fire safety, now want the dryer’s parent company, Whirlpool, to change their current advice to consumers as a matter of urgency.
This says: “You may continue to use your tumble dryer whilst waiting for the modification, however, we require that you do not leave your dryer unattended during operation as an extra precaution (i.e. do not leave the house or leave the dryer on whilst asleep).”
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: ”If my kitchen had one of the recalled goods in it, I would unplug it straight away until it has been checked and repaired. The speed with which the fire took hold shows how dangerous a faulty tumble dryer can be that’s why we are calling for Whirlpool to urgently change their advice to consumers.
“The flat’s occupants had a terrifying ordeal. The kitchen quickly became smoke logged and thankfully they noticed the smoke and quickly left the flat and called the Brigade. This decision could have saved lives.
“If your appliance is subject to a safety or recall notice or you think there is something wrong with it our advice is simple. Unplug it immediately and contact the manufacturer or a qualified repair technician.”
Friday’s blaze started in the kitchen of a seventh floor flat and the occupants were in at the time and using their tumble dryer. Thankfully they were uninjured and escaped smoke coming from the dryer. The residents of four other flats in the block have also had to be rehoused following the blaze.
The Brigade, which attends nearly one fire a day involving white goods, believes while there is a fire risk people should not use their appliance until it has been checked and repaired. Its five major concerns about the manufacturers’ current safety advice are:
1. The safety notice was issued due to the danger of fire and any fire has the potential to endanger life and property.
2. It’s impractical for most people to remain with an appliance for the duration of a drying cycle.
3. If the dryer does catch fire while it’s attended this still presents a risk to the occupants.
4. If a the owner attempts to put out a fire in an appliance they could be putting their life at risk. The Brigade’s advice is to not risk tackling the fire, always raise the alarm, get out, stay out and call 999.
5. The time a fire may break out because of a fault is unpredictable. The ignition of fluff accumulated around a heating element may cause a smouldering fire which might not be discovered until the appliance has finished being used and the owner has gone to bed.
The Brigade has already written to the Whirlpool Corporation in February expressing concern about its advice to customers, saying that while there is a risk people should not use the appliance until it has been checked and repaired.
Total Recalls – making white goods safer
The Brigade’s call for people to stop using recalled white goods following the Shepherd’s Bush tower block blaze follows hot on the heels of the launch of its Total Recalls Campaign.
The campaign aims to make sure the public are better protected from potentially lethal faulty white goods by calling on the Government to improve the way that product recalls work.
Fire Chiefs believe improving the recall system and making it easy for people to check if their appliances are subject to a safety or recall notice is a key way of ensuring these dangerous appliances are removed from homes across the UK.
The safety notice issued by Whirlpool identified a potential concern with two types of tumble dryer manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015. The affected brands are Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda, Proline and Swan. You can find out more here.