Since 2004, at least 750 fires have been identified to have been caused by tumble dryer brands owned by Whirlpool and, two years after the issues were raised, 1m affected dryers are still in people’s homes.
This is according to a new report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee (BEIS), looking at the safety of electrical goods in the UK.
The select committee report also shows that in 2015 and 2016 there were 676 fires caused by tumble dryers in England. But it’s not only tumble dryers that can potentially cause serious damage – between 2010 and 2016 there were 1,598 fires in England caused by fridge freezers.
If you have a Whirlpool tumble dryer, you can use our fire-risk tumble dryers tool to find out whether it is an affected model. You can also visit our guide to fridge freezer safety for more on what you can do to minimise risks.
Whirlpool fire risk
It is now known that more than 100 Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline and Swan tumble dryer models (all brands owned by Whirlpool) made between April 2004 and October 2015 could pose a fire risk.
This is because a fault in the dryers could lead to fires if excess fluff comes into contact with the heating element.
Whirlpool has an ongoing programme to replace or repair fire-risk machines across the UK that have been registered with the company. It says that if you have an affected machine, you must unplug it immediately and not use it until it’s been fixed.
Which? calls for new safety body
Which? is concerned that government has also been slow to respond to serious incidents and subsequent reviews following product-related fires. We are currently awaiting the outcome of the Working Group on Product Recall and Safety that was set up in October 2016.
We are now calling for the government to urgently set up a new national body to take responsibility for product safety and recalls. This body must have the resources and expertise to identify dangerous goods and to make sure they are removed from people’s homes.
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: ‘Despite hundreds of reported fires and numerous reviews, the UK’s product safety system is still broken and potentially threatening the lives of millions of consumers.
‘We have already seen the tragic consequences of companies behaving badly and delays to improving the system. The government must no longer allow these dangerous products to remain in people’s homes and must bring in immediate reforms.’
You can find out more about the work we have been doing to ensure Whirlpool does more to prevent faulty dryers on our fire-risk dryers campaign page, where more than 82,700 people have already signed our petition.
Urgent action demanded from Whirlpool
The select committee’s report recommends that Whirlpool must explain how it will deal with the remaining defective machines within two weeks of affected customers contacting the company, and that all manufacturers should do risk assessments as soon as any defects are identified.
Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the committee, said: ‘Whirlpool’s woeful response to the defect in its tumble dryers has caused huge worry to people with these appliances in their homes. Whirlpool’s delayed and dismissive response to correcting these defects has been inadequate, and we call on Whirlpool to resolve issues urgently.’
It also found that the government had been ‘painfully slow’ in improving a product safety regime, which it said was both ‘fragmented and poorly resourced’.
Whirlpool got in touch with us and said: ‘Whirlpool has provided resolutions to 99.9% of all consumers who have registered, and resolved 1.7 million affected tumble dryers.
‘After two years of extensive measures to raise awareness to this campaign – including directly contacting 4 million owners of these appliances – the number of consumers coming forward has fallen sharply. We continue to urge consumers to contact us immediately if they believe they still own an affected appliance.’