THE TORY government has been slammed over lack of preventative action, with PM Theresa May being warned that more people are set to die from fires started by faulty white goods if nothing is done.
In a letter to May, signed by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) Commissioner Dany Cotton, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Fire Brigades Union, National Fire Chiefs Council, and charity Electrical Safety First, they warn: ‘Thousands of dangerous white goods are still being used in homes across the UK.
‘This week marks the 12 months’ anniversary of a major fire at Shepherd’s Court in Shepherds Bush which destroyed the homes and all the possessions 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.’
The letter stresses: ‘There are three fires a day involving tumble dryers in the UK and the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower started in a fridge-freezer.’ It continues: ‘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 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 at their home in Sonia Gardens in Neasden which was caused by a Whirlpool chest freezer.’ The letter further stresses: ‘There have been over three years of reports and recommendatons but as yet no action from the government.’
The letter adds that ‘the process of review has been going on for almost three years, and as yet there has been no substantial changes made to improve this system (of product recall). What is needed now is action.’ It goes on: ‘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.’
It concludes by calling for ‘a single register for UK product recalls’ and for ‘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.’
The LFB also wants risk assessments to be published when a fault is identified and for the ‘sleeping risk’ to be included in these assessments. Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said: ‘The current product safety system is broken and potentially putting people’s lives at risk.
‘The government must put consumers first by creating a national body to lead on product safety and a “one-stop-shop” to provide information and advice on dangerous products and recalls.’