London Fire Brigade

White goods 'time bomb' exposed, warn fire chiefs

14 March 2016

New figures haved revealed there is, on average, nearly one fire a day in the capital involving white goods such as dishwashers, washing machines, tumble dryers, fridges and freezers.

In 90 per cent of cases, the cause was a fault in the appliance or its electrical supply rather than human behaviour.

Our figures also show that despite a substantial reduction in fires in the home over recent years - 13 per cent between 2011 and 2015 - the number of blazes involving white goods has dropped just five per cent during the same period.

Call for single easily accessible recall register

To reduce the fire risk posed by faulty white goods, we are now urging the Government to act on a recommendation, made by consumer champion Lynn Faulds Wood, to introduce one single, publicly accessible register of recalled products.


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The recommendation was made as part of her recent review of the product recall system.

Currently consumers rely on a variety of databases, manufacturers' websites and media publicity, making it difficult to find out if any of the electrical appliances they own are a potential death trap.



We believe the current system to alert consumers a product is being recalled is ineffective with only around 10 - 20 per cent of products ever being returned or repaired.

Worse still, faulty products often remain in circulation on the second-hand goods market.

Our own fire investigation team have discovered potentially lethal electrical appliances being sold in second-hand shops in the capital, even though they are subject to a recall.

Single public register would save lives

Our Director of Operations Dave Brown said: "While recent years have seen fires in the home steadily falling, fires caused by electrical goods are falling at a much slower rate.

"We strongly believe a single, publicly accessible register of recalled goods would make all the difference.

"Consumers, landlords and second hand retailers would be able to quickly identify faulty appliances and find safety and recall information which could ultimately save lives.

"We would like the Government to act on the recommendations made by Lynn Faulds Wood and make it as easy as possible for consumers to check they are not being put at risk by a faulty white goods time bomb."


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As well as a single recall database for consumers and manufacturers, we are also calling for:

  • Staff in second-hand and charity shops to check the items they are selling are not part of any product recall
  • Private landlords to check regularly the safety of electrical appliances in their properties, including whether they are subject to a recall notice
  • Consumers to register their appliance when they buy it and make a note of the make and model of their appliances in case the product is later recalled
  • A requirement to have fireproof marking on white goods, making clear the manufacturer and ideally the model and serial number for identification purposes in the event of a fire

What you can do now to safeguard against faulty appliance fires

In the meantime there are steps that people can take immediately to guard against fire in faulty electrical appliances:

  • If you think there may be a problem with an electrical appliance that you own always unplug it and contact the manufacturer or a qualified appliance repair technician
  • Check whether an electrical product is subject to recall
  • Fit a minimum of one smoke alarm per floor and fit enough alarms to cover all areas where a fire could start, making sure they are tested regularly
  • Plan how you would get out in the event of a fire in your home
  • If a fire does start, don't try to fight the fire. Get out, stay out and call the Brigade immediately
  • Make sure white goods are not positioned in escape routes so if they do catch fire they don't block your way out of the property
  • Support our campaign and sign our Change.org petition