Stop using dangerous faulty tumble dryer models now, fire chiefs warn
Home-owners with faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers must stop using them immediately after one of the machines was found to be the cause of a huge tower block blaze, fire chiefs have said.
London Fire Brigade renewed its campaign to make white goods safer following a "painstaking" investigation into the blaze in an 18-storey building in Shepherd's Bush in August, which took 120 firefighters to bring under control.
The brigade said it believed a faulty Indesit tumble dryer was the cause, adding that parent company Whirlpool should change its advice to customers so that any dryers waiting to be modified are not used.
A reported 5.3 million dryers made by Whirlpool brands Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda between April 2004 and September 2015 are subject to a safety notice about the fire risk, which is caused by excess fluff coming into contact with the heating element.
London Fire Brigade's director of operations, Dave Brown, said: "This fire has highlighted just how dangerous faulty white goods can be. Disappointingly though, Whirlpool have still not changed their advice to consumers.
"Following the conclusion of our investigation, we are now appealing once again for them to change their advice and bring it into line with our own. Thankfully there were no serious injuries in the Shepherd's Bush fire but we may not be so lucky if it happens again.
"It was vital that we conducted such a robust and systematic investigation to get a clear picture of what happened. Following an exhaustive examination of the scene and the remains of the appliance by our specialist fire investigators, we remain satisfied the cause was the faulty dryer."
Alex Neill, of consumer group Which?, said: " London Fire Brigade's investigation into the Shepherd's Bush fire highlights the urgent need for the Government to review the Whirlpool case and set out how it is going to improve safety for affected customers."
Consumer Minister Margot James said: "Customer safety must be the number one priority for manufacturers. I acknowledge that Whirlpool are making great efforts to modify and replace at-risk machines, but I believe additional action is required to reassure customers and the public. I will be writing to the company to set out my concerns and expectations.
"I am also creating a new Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety to look at what more can be done to improve the safety of white goods, including tumble dryers."
In a statement, Whirlpool repeated its previous advice to customers, advising them to check if their dryer is affected and register for a modification kit if necessary.
" The success of the programme depends on as many customers as possible registering with us for a modification. Therefore, we urge everyone who owns an Indesit, Hotpoint or Creda dryer manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 to check if their dryer is affected and then register for a free modification if it is," it said.
It added: "Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident in Shepherd's Bush, London, in August 2016. While we understand that London Fire Brigade has concluded its investigation into the incident, Whirlpool's independent forensic investigations are still ongoing and, in the circumstances, it would be inappropriate to comment further.
"The safety of consumers is our number one priority and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the tumble dryer modification programme is carried out in a safe and timely manner. We continue to co-operate fully with the relevant regulatory authority as progress of the campaign is regularly monitored and reviewed."
The company said customers could check their dryer by using the model checker on two bespoke websites - https://safety.hotpoint.eu/ and https://safety.indesit.eu/ - or via a free helpline on 0800 151 0905 for the UK or 1800 804320 for Ireland.