London Fire Brigade

Letter for action on white goods

Since the death of Santosh Benjamin Muthiah in a fire caused by a Beko fridge in 2011, we have been calling for more to be done about potentially dangerous white goods.

Since 2010 we have attended 2,170 fires involving white goods like  fridges, freezers, tumble dryers and washing machines. Steering groups have been set-up, recommendations have been made, but still no action has been taken by government.

Letter to Theresa May calling for action

This letter to Prime Minister Theresa May calls for the Government to take action now before more people lose their lives.

 

Dear Prime Minister,


Thousands of dangerous white goods are still being used in homes across the UK.

This week marks the 12 month anniversary of a major fire at Shepherds Court in Shepherd’s Bush. The fire destroyed the homes and all the possessions of a number of families living in the tower block. The fire investigation showed that the fire was caused by a faulty Indesit tumble dryer which was subject to the corrective action/safety notice by Whirlpool, the parent company.

A year on people across the UK are still using white goods that pose a serious fire risk and are subject to recall or corrective action. Worse still, some fridges and freezers are still being produced with a flammable plastic backing, which offers very little protection against the insulation foam inside catching alight if a fire starts

We are deeply concerned that, a year after Shepherds Court, decisive action is still needed to improve product recalls and manufacturing standards for white goods in the UK.

There are three fires a day involving tumble dryers in the UK and the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower started in a fridge freezer.

In 2010 36-year old Santosh Benjamin Muthiah died from the effects of smoke inhalation after saving his wife and two young children from a fire in their Wealdstone home that was found to have been caused by a faulty Beko fridge freezer. The Coroner recommended a series of measures to improve product recalls, but these changes have still not been made.

In 2011 Muna Elmufatish, 41 and five of her children Hanin, 14, Basma, 13, Amal, nine, Mustafa, five and Yehya, two all died in a fire at their home in Sonia Gardens in Neasden which was caused by a Whirlpool chest freezer.

There has been over three years of reports and recommendations but as yet no action from Government.

We appreciate that the Government has been looking into these issues and commend the work that Margot James at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has undertaken.

We are extremely concerned, however, that the review of the UK product recall system was first announced in November 2014. This was then launched in March 2015 with consumer champion,

Lynn Faulds Wood leading the review which reported in February 2016 with a series of recommendations. A steering group was then set up to take these forward. Following the Shepherds Court fire, a new working group to replace the steering group was set up in autumn 2016 which published its recommendations in July 2017. We are now awaiting a Government response to the report which we understand is due in the autumn.

This means that the process of review has been ongoing for almost three years and as yet there has been no substantial changes made to improve this system. What is needed now is action. 

There are some simple things the Government can do. For instance, it is extremely difficult for consumers to check if appliances they have in their home are subject to product recall. We believe there should be one, trusted, searchable place to look up your appliances – this should be set up centrally on gov.uk .

We are also concerned that the review process did not address manufacturing standards for white goods . For example, all fridges and freezers should be constructed to keep flammable insulation material protected from the components in the appliance which could cause a fire. All appliances should be marked with the model/serial number so they can be identified after a fire. There needs to be improvements in the way that producers and distributors undertake assessments of how safe white goods are to specifically take into account the risk of a fire starting while people are asleep.

We are writing to you now to call for the recommendations of the working group report to be acted upon swiftly and in full, to include a single register for UK product recalls. We also call upon the Government to put its full weight behind bringing about changes in the international standards for how white goods are manufactured and to look at what can be done to bring about these changes more quickly in the UK.

Yours sincerely,


Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner 

Rt Hon Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London 

Fiona Twycross AM, Chair, LFEPA  

Gareth Bacon AM, Lead Conservative Member on LFEPA 

Paul Embery, Executive Council Member (London), Fire Brigades Union 

Stewart Edgar, Lead for Prevention, National Fire Chiefs Council 

Phil Buckle, Chief Executive, Electrical Safety First

 

 

 

 

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