Monday 31 August 2020 / 3:00 PM Sarah Jones

Labour calls for urgent action on fires caused by faulty appliances in high rise blocks

Sarah Jones writes to Minister responsible for fire calling for urgent action on the rising number of fires caused by faulty appliances in high rise blocks.

Following reports of a rise in accidental electric fires caused by faulty appliances in high rise blocks, Sarah Jones has written to the Minister responsible for fire to call for quicker action to address the number of faulty appliances in homes and prevent further fires.

Sarah Jones MP, Shadow Minister for Policing and Fire, writes:

“The slow progress in recalling them needs swift improvement – if quicker action is not taken, the Government risks letting down all those who campaigned for change after Grenfell.

“People must be reassured they are not living with the possibility of faulty appliances that could risk setting their homes on fire.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

Full copy of the letter:

James Brokenshire

Minister of State for Security

Home Office

2 Marsham Street

London

SW1P 4DF

31 August 2020

Dear James,

I am writing to you to raise my concerns about the rising number of accidental electrical fires caused by faulty appliances in high-rise blocks in England.

Based on an analysis of Government figures by Electrical Safety First, The Times have reported a rise in the number of electrical fires caused by faulty tumble dryers and fridges, and that the number of accidental electrical fires in tower blocks has risen in each of the past three years.

Considering this worrying rise, the latest data from the Government on the recall of Whirlpool’s washing machines shows an unacceptable level of progress. There are now an estimated 590,000 Whirlpool washing machines potentially affected by a fire safety issue, but only 42% have been registered to the recall programme. Three years on from the Grenfell tower fire, caused by faulty wiring to a fridge freezer, and four years since the fire at Shepherds Court in West London due to a faulty tumble dryer, it is extremely concerning that only one in ten of over half a million faulty washing machines have been repaired or replaced.

The London Fire Brigade, the National Fire Chiefs Council, the Fire Brigades Union and Electrical Safety First have called for a number of changes to address the problem, from a single, government backed, publicly accessible database of product recalls, making risk assessments mandatory to publish by consumers, improving trading standards and information sharing on faulty white goods.

Given the very real risk to people’s lives and homes from faulty machines, the slow progress in recalling them needs swift improvement. If quicker action is not taken, the Government risks letting down those who expected things to change after Grenfell. I urge you to work with colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Office for Product Safety Standards to increase efforts to speed up these recalls, so that people can be reassured they are not living with the possibility of appliances that could risk setting their homes on fire.

I would be grateful if you could outline what action you are taking to deal with this problem.

Best wishes,

Sarah Jones MP

Shadow Minister for Policing and Fire

Additional Notes:

  • Rise in fires caused by tumble dryers and fridges, The Times, 17 August 2020 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rise-in-fires-caused-by-tumble-dryers-and-fridges-vv2p3j88w
  • BEIS, 9 July 2020,https://www.gov.uk/government/news/whirlpool-washing-machine-recall-update#historyhttps://www.gov.uk/government/news/whirlpool-washing-machine-recall-update#history
  • BEIS, 7 February 2020, https://web.archive.org/web/20200208143240/https://www.gov.uk/government/news/whirlpool-washing-machine-recall-updatehttps://web.archive.org/web/20200208143240/https:/www.gov.uk/government/news/whirlpool-washing-machine-recall-update