Fire chiefs demand recalls for ‘Russian roulette’ tumble-dryers

Fire service chiefs have called for “Russian roulette” tumble-dryers to be recalled to avoid users being put at risk in the event of appliances catching fire.

The London Government Association (LGA), which represents 48 fire and rescue services around the country, is pressing manufacturers to recall faulty products in the interests of consumer safety.

It has warned that consumers who continue to use appliances identified as having a fault while awaiting a repair are placing themselves at risk.

The LGA said in a statement: “Companies who are running lengthy repair programmes for potentially dangerous machines, instead of recalling them, are risking the lives of millions of people.”

Jeremy Hilton, chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said: “People using faulty tumble-dryers are unwittingly playing Russian roulette and leading manufacturers need to recall affected models as soon as possible.”

The LGA is also calling manufacturers for tumble-dryers to have fireproof markings on them, so that they can be identified in the event of a fire.

The LGA also reiterated the need for people to take precautions, such as cleaning out the fluff filter regularly and never leaving their tumble-dryers unattended while in operation.

Added Mr Hilton: “Firefighters are attending tumble-dryer fires three times a day, which is alarming. These defective products are endangering lives, causing thousands of pounds of damage to homes and making people homeless.”

Whirlpool is the latest manufacturer to embark on a major safety notification campaign. In this case for tumble-dryers manufactured under the Creda, Indesit, Hotpoint, Swan and Proline brands between 2004 and 2015. It is in the process of contacting 3.4 million owners to arrange for remedial work to be carried out, with some being told they may have to wait until January 2017 for a modification.

Whirlpool has informed users that affected models are safe to use in the meantime, so long as they are not left unattended while in use.

In a statement, Whirlpool commented: “The LGA has highlighted figures relating to the entire industry, not specific manufacturers or brands. The safety of our customers is our number one priority.”

The statement added: “We are concerned that the [LGA] misleadingly suggests that all of the tumble-dryer fires reported in the government statistics and by local fire and rescue authorities are linked to a specific cause and/or to the corrective action currently being undertaken by Whirlpool. This is not correct.

“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.”

On the matter of the remedial programme for affected tumble-dryers, Whirlpool said: “The scale of this modification programme is considerable and we’re continually looking into alternative options which will allow us to progress the programme at a faster pace and are working hard to improve our response times. To this end, we continue to recruit extra engineers. Since the beginning of the modification programme we have increased our team of engineers by over 45 per cent to around 1,500 engineers.”