Ministers ‘must act on faulty white goods fire risk’

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Grenfell TowerImage copyright PA
Image caption The Grenfell Tower fire started in a faulty fridge-freezer

More people will die from fires started by faulty white goods if ministers do not act to implement safety guidelines, the London Fire Brigade, the city’s mayor, and safety groups have warned.

In a letter to Theresa May, they say some fridges and freezers are being sold with a flammable plastic backing.

And the letter says people continue to use white goods that are subject to product recalls to fix lethal faults.

The Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 80 people, started in a fridge-freezer.

The letter refers to a fire in August 2016 in Shepherds Court, a tower block in west London, which began in a faulty tumble dryer.

That blaze prompted a whole series of safety recommendations but a year on, the letter points out, no substantial changes have yet been made.

It says: “A year on people across the UK are still using white goods that pose a serious fire risk and are subject to recall or corrective action.

“Worse still, some fridges and freezers are still being produced with a flammable plastic backing, which offers very little protection against the insulation foam inside catching alight if a fire starts.

“We are deeply concerned that, a year after Shepherds Court, decisive action is still needed to improve product recalls and manufacturing standards for white goods in the UK.”

The fire brigade wants the government to put a single register of product recalls, including all international recalls, on the website, which carries other key public information.

The LFB also wants risk assessments to be published when a fault is identified and for the “sleeping risk” to be included in these assessments.

The letter was signed by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) Commissioner Dany Cotton, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Fire Brigades Union, National Fire Chiefs Council and charity Electrical Safety First.

It points out that it is not only the guidelines made last year that have to be implemented.

In 2014, a coroner suggested a series of safety recommendations to improve product recalls, following the inquest into the death of Santosh Benjamin-Muthiah, a father who died saving his wife and children from a fire caused by a fridge freezer.

The fire service said it was “extremely concerned” that “no substantial changes” have been made in the product recall system since then.

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