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Whirlpool's reluctance an obstacle to preventing more fire deaths

If it isn't enough that the scale of the Whirlpool (#whirlpool-hotpoint-creda-indesit-fire) scandal is of such a proportion that millions of homes are at risk of fire, injury and death as a direct result, the actions of Whirlpool are nothing short of a modern day Ford Pinto scandal, were corporate greed is put before consumer safety.

Just when you think 'surely Whirlpool will act now?' they obstruct, deny and delay further, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

MPs have routinely attacked the way the "ignorant and arrogant" manufacturer has dealt with millions of potentially dangerous machines since a safety alert was first issued in November 2015.

Let us not forget that Whirlpool only admitted there was a problem and told consumers when consumer group Which? threatened them with legal action. Let us not also forget that despite there still being a million at risk machines in the UK alone, that the appliance causing the Grenfell fire (and its 71 dead) was a fridge freezer under Whirlpool’s Hotpoint brand. Also, let us not forget that in November 2017, and still no recall from Whirlpool that the LondonFire Brigade named Whirlpool as the worst offending appliance brand for fires, outperforming the next on the list by 300%.

From from January 2009 to September 2017 brands under the Whirlpool umbrella accounted for a total of 895 fires (69 under the Whirlpool brand, 502 Hotpoint, 257 Indesit, 12 ProLine, 51 Creda and four Swan) in London alone.

The second highest number of fires involved Bosch with 276 incidents (203 Bosch, 55 Neff and 18 Siemens), followed by Hoover/Candy with 209, Beko with 191 and AEG/Electrolux/Zanussi with 157.

"Whirlpool's attitude obstacle to preventing further deaths"

According to the coroner David Lewis in the Whirlpool appliance fire in Llanrwst, north Wales, in October 2014 he raises concerns at Whirlpool's attitude to deadly tumble dryers in his Fire Report on the deaths of Bernard Hender, 19, and Doug McTavish, 39 in that fire, saying the company’s reluctance to digest inquest lessons is an "obstacle to preventing further deaths."

In the report, Lewis raised concerns that evidence from witnesses called by lawyers for Whirlpool during the hearing had been “defensive and dismissive”.

Coroner Lewis said: “The door switch assembly of interest in this case is used in literally hundreds of thousands of appliances manufactured by Whirlpool. I did not emerge from the hearing confident that Whirlpool’s risk assessment processes have fully identified or appreciated the extent of the risk of fire (and its potential consequences).”

Lewis said evidence from the firm’s retired global product safety director Larry Latack about the use of data from the field, such as reports of fire, was of “considerable concern”.

The coroner added, "I am concerned that the company’s reluctance to place due reliance on information coming forward in this way, and instead to prefer to take advice from itself, represents an obstacle to timely learning and a likely inhibitor to progressive steps which might prevent fires and save lives.”

Whirlpool has until late December to respond to the coroner’s report and detail what action will be taken but given Whirlpool withdrew replacement scheme with 1m defective appliances left in more or less the same time frame as the coroners report into another Whirlpool fire that resulted in deaths, one question remains as to why the hell would anyone in the UK put their trust in Whirlpool and buy another Whirlpool product, given its very clear attitude to its customers safety?

Alex Neill of  consumer group Which?, said: “The coroner’s report exposes the fundamental failings of Whirlpool’s handling of unsafe products. The government should urgently investigate if this is a breach of the company’s obligations under product safety law and immediately enforce a full product recall of all remaining fire-risk tumble dryers in people’s homes...This case is further evidence that the UK’s product safety regime is simply not fit for purpose and must be reformed, with the creation of a new national body to lead on issues of this nature.”

Until Whirlpool are seen to act against this growing fire safety scandal every news item about Whirlpool on this site will have the tag #whirlpool-hotpoint-creda-indesit-fire to link all Whirlpool news and not allow the appliance giant to dilute the (negative) safety news with positive brand messages about what new features its products have.

Despite all the awards and achievements Whirlpool boast about, at heart your safety isn’t something it puts first so just think about that before you put one of their appliances in your home as some reports have shown, the appliance fires are not limited to tumble dryers when in use, but as in the case of Grenfell, a fridge/freezer was reported as the start of the blaze and these appliances are not turned off when you go to sleep at night.