Appliance manufacturing giant Whirlpool has issued a warning to owners of its ‘fire-risk tumble-dryers’ to not use any of the affected dryers which are awaiting a repair.
Whirlpool, which owns the troubled tumble-dryer brands Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda, had previously advised consumers who had purchased affected tumble-dryers that they were safe to use, as long as someone was in attendance whilst in use, and to not leave them unattended.
However, following advice from Trading Standards and it has to be said, something consumer watchdog Which had been advocating for over a year now, Whirlpool has now updated the safety notice on its website.
The statement reads: “Trading Standards confirmed, following an internal review by independent experts, that the modification programme remains the most effective way of resolving this issue. As a result, we will continue with our efforts to provide consumers with a free-of-charge modification as quickly as possible.
“Trading Standards have also notified us that updated usage advice should be communicated to affected consumers. If your tumble-dryer is affected by this issue, then you should unplug it and do not use it until the modification has taken place.”
Whilst various reports put the total number of tumble dryers bursting into flames in the last six years at more than 6000 it should be noted that in the UK as a whole, fire-fighters were called out to 3,777 incidents of tumble dryer fires since 2010 alone. Furthermore, the Shepherd’s Bush tower block blaze in August 2016 stands out as a significant incident as it took 120 firefighters to bring the fire under control
Furthermore, given that not all fire and rescue services responded to requests for data (i.e. only 33 of the 54 UK fire services responded) and in respect of the Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda dryers that the known fault dates back to 2004 it isn’t hard to see that even the latest and highest figure of 6000 plus fires could still playing the issue down in terms of its scale.
Nevertheless, the headline figures are sobering as there were 270 injuries and several deaths attributed to tumble dryer fires in the last couple of years alone. However, the number of casualties is also likely to be much greater as only 17 fire brigades revealed injury data.
Whirlpool has sent letters to more than 3.8 million owners of affected tumble-dryers, with those registering for the free repair waiting up to a year for the problem to be resolved.
It should be noted that consumer champion Which also reported that 175 Hoover washing machines caught fire between January 2011 and March 2014.
Back in June 2015, before the scale of the now scandal was made public both Hoover and Whirlpool told Which they disagreed with Which’s findings. Whirlpool brand Hotpoint said it didn’t agree with their market-share figures and believes “it’s inaccurate to draw conclusions from a relatively small number of incidents where the cause of fire is not always investigated”, and Hoover said it cannot establish conclusions from the data Which provided.
Given the overwhelming evidence coming to lights since those distancing statements and todays announcement the public can now establish its own conclusions and the wider question will be when did the risks first come to light and was there a cover up?