Fire chief urges Whirlpool to change advice over faulty dryers

Following a tower block blaze in London’s Shepherds Bush, the London Fire Brigade has called on Whirlpool to change its advice in the safety notice it issued in November 2015 on faulty tumble-dryers.

The blaze ripped through an 18-storey high rise, taking 120 firefighters to put it out. LFB has said it believes the fire was caused by a faulty Indesit tumble-dryer, which was subject to ‘corrective action’ by the manufacturer.

Firefighters said the blaze started in the kitchen of a seventh-floor flat and the occupants were in at the time and using their tumble-dryer and escaped uninjured. The residents of four other flats in the block have also had to be rehoused.

The LFB is now asking Indesit’s parent company Whirlpool to change its advice to consumers “as a matter of urgency”.

Whirlpool’s current advice is: ”You may continue to use your tumble dryer while waiting for the modification, however, we require that you do not leave your dryer unattended during operation as an extra precaution (i.e. do not leave the house or leave the dryer on while asleep).”

Shepherds Bush tower block fire

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “If my kitchen had one of the recalled goods in it, I would unplug it straight away until it has been checked and repaired. The speed with which the fire took hold shows how dangerous a faulty tumble-dryer can be. That’s why we are calling for Whirlpool to urgently change their advice to consumers.

“The flat’s occupants had a terrifying ordeal. The kitchen quickly became smoke-logged and thankfully they noticed the smoke and quickly left the flat and called the Brigade. This decision could have saved lives.

“If your appliance is subject to a safety or recall notice, or you think there is something wrong with it, our advice is simple. Unplug it immediately and contact the manufacturer or a qualified repair technician.”

Shepherds Bush tower block fire

LFB listed its five concerns about Whirlpool’s current advice. They are:

  1. The safety notice was issued due to the danger of fire and any fire has the potential to endanger life and property.
  2. It’s impractical for most people to remain with an appliance for the duration of a drying cycle.
  3. If the dryer does catch fire while it’s attended, this still presents a risk to the occupants.
  4. If the owner attempts to put out a fire in an appliance, they could be putting their life at risk. The Brigade’s advice is to not risk tackling the fire, always raise the alarm, get out, stay out and call 999.
  5. The time a fire may break out because of a fault is unpredictable. The ignition of fluff accumulated around a heating element may cause a smouldering fire, which might not be discovered until the appliance has finished being used and the owner has gone to bed.

In response to the incident, a Whirlpool spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this incident. The cause of the fire is currently unknown and we will assist London Fire Brigade in any way we can as they investigate. We are looking into the circumstances surrounding the fire as a matter of urgency. As investigations are currently ongoing, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

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