/ Home & Energy

Why are we still waiting for Whirlpool to sort this mess out?

burnt tumble dryer

It’s nearly a year on since the news broke that some Whirlpool dryers are at risk of catching fire. So how much longer will you have to wait for Whirlpool to replace a fire risk tumble dryer in your home?

In November last year, Whirlpool announced many of the 5.3 million Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers sold were at risk of catching fire. You’d think Whirlpool would act faster to make sure unsafe products we fixed or replaced.

Our research revealed multiple failings by Whirlpool in dealing with their customers, leaving people feeling they’ve been failed – more than half of the affected customers we surveyed felt dissatisfied with the way Whirlpool handled this situation.

Fire risk dryers

So far, we’ve heard from hundreds of you on Which? Conversation who told us about how little is being done to fix your unsafe machine. Some of you have found an agreeable resolution with Whirlpool. But the fact remains that far too many are living with unsafe tumble dryers.

People like John Wood. John returned home from work to find his house on fire. The fire, caused by a faulty Hotpoint dryer, destroyed his kitchen and sadly his dog later died of smoke inhalation.

John’s insurance company refused to pay out because the tumble dryer was left on unattended and therefore against manufacturer instructions. Understandably, John feels very strongly that not enough is being done to highlight tumble dryer faults.

Further to this, another fire sparked in an 18 storey tower block in west London was caused by a faulty tumble dryer, an investigation published last week by London Fire Brigade found.

In light of the London Fire Brigade’s recent investigation, if you have an affected tumble dryer, our advice is to stop using it until it has been repaired or replaced. If you’re not sure this includes your dryer, all the affected models we know about are here: www.which.co.uk/productrecall

Time for action

We’ve been pushing for action from Whirlpool. Back in May, we asked Whirlpool to train its call centre staff to offer better advice to affected customers and speed up the process for registration. We’re still waiting for Whirlpool to publish a full list of model numbers of the 127 affected products on the front page of their website.

Whirlpool needs to be held to account for how it’s treating its customers. We want the government to urgently review the Whirlpool case and set out how it’s going to improve the product safety system for all consumers.

Tell us, are you still waiting for Whirlpool to sort your tumble dryer out? Do you think it’s time Whirlpool issued you a refund?

Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns at Which?, appeared on BBC One’s Rip Off Britain this morning to talk about Whirlpool, the programme will be available to view on the BBC iPlayer later today.

George Fletcher says:
29 October 2016

I entered my dryer details onto the website which confirmed the drier needed a modification and the I would be contacted within 10 weeks.
Despite this I received an email within a couple of days offering a new replacement instead of a repair. The old dryer was about 5 yrs old so I stumped up the £59 and the dryer was delivered and installed within a fortnight.
An immediate free repair would have been preferable but I am satisfied with the result.

Lee horner says:
29 October 2016

I have a hit point 8kg futura model tcfg87c. And the engineer came out last Friday to replace the effected part , which from the looks of it it was the back plate as he left the old one for us to dispose of

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Would Which? testers be interested to examine the old part I wonder?

I will report Lee Horner’s comment for their information and an opportunity to get hold of a defective part.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Which? have not visibly shown any interest at all in discovering the problem with Indesit – type dryers; not testing them to see if they meet official Safety Standards, not reporting the proposed fixes, and seemingly not engaging with the Standards people to see if improvements are appropriate. I say not visibly because this may all be going on behind the scenes. If so it would be nice if we were told.

I registered my Hotpoint tumble dryer last December and am still waiting for it to be modified. An appointment was made about 6 weeks ago but the engineer failed to turn up on the day so I contacted them and another appointment was made for three weeks ago ( confirmation was received by text and email with a specific time ) but once again no engineer turned up!! I telephoned customer services and complained and was told that the engineer had tried to contact me but got no reply which was just a cop out as I was at home waiting – the engineer had apparently finished for the day and gone home!! I was promised an immediate call back to re-arrange but to date no-one has called back. Last week I registered a complaint on Hotpoint’s website – that has not even been acknowledged yet. I do not know what else to do.!! Any suggestions gratefully received.

Hi Olive – If you paid for your tumble dryer by credit card then you can make a claim against your card provider: https://www.theretailombudsman.org.uk/how-to-get-your-money-back-if-you-have-a-faulty-hotpoint-tumble-dryer/

I hope you succeed and please let us know if you do.

I got rid of my tumble dryer but the only type I consider safe is the heat pump type because the cheaper vented and condenser dryers contain a heater that operates at high temperature. If you go for one of the cheaper models, please clean the filter(s) after every use.

Thank you for that information – I had not realised that was a possibility .

Have a look at the advice on the Which? website: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/l/credit-and-debit-cards

In addition to making Section 75 claims on credit card purchases over £100 you can make chargeback claims on smaller amounts for credit/debit card purchases.

Hello just like to say if your going to read this you may want to go & get a cup of tea as I’m sorry it go’s on a bit.

we have one of though’s tumble dryers that are faulty.

We filled in the online form & we were contacted via email well over a year ago, telling us that it was unsafe & we could have it modified or purchase a new tumble dryer at a discounted price, ”fair enough” we thought, we opted for a discounted one,

we were offered a choice of click & collect or delivery, we went for the click & collect submitted this all on line & then heard nothing until early this year when we received the first of many phone calls & emails, asking when we would

like our tumble dryer modified, we explained what option we had gone for & were told someone would be in contact & that a note would be put on the system telling people what we had opted for, as i said we have had many

phone calls since then & all of them go the same way, the second from last phone call we had the chap sent me via email a phone No to sort out the click & collect, i thought happy days were moving on, NO i was informed that the nearest

Curry’s to me was 73 miles away if i wanted to still do the click & collect, i told the girl that was not the case & i knew of three that were local to me, she informed me that they were having trouble with the system & that I should phone back

every day to see if it was working, yep thats right, I HAD TO PHONE UP EVERY DAY !!! just after that we had another phone call, same as all the rest but at the end i asked if i went to a Curry’s could i sort it out with them, the chap said i could

try, which i did, went to Harlow, 20 min drive for a blank expression from the manager, who said he new nothing about any scheme for replacement tumble dryers, but i didn’t give up, no i went on there chat line & because i can not type very fast

( i can only use one finger) i was cut off mid sentence & after id told the person i was not very fast, “nice one cheers for that”, so that pleased me, but i didn’t give up no i phoned up this No 03448224224 & was kept on hold for 17 minuets & when

i finally got to speak to some one i got the impression that he was about as concerned with my problems as I’m concerned with the out come of Strictly come dancing, which is not in the slightest, he then informed me that click & collect has now

been stopped due to “some thing to do with curry’s” & they had know this for a week, i asked when they were going to tell people ? he just repeated that they had only known for a week & i could now purchase a new one which they would deliver

but it was going to cost more than double what the click & collect was going to cost, when i asked to speak to a manager he said that non were available, i asked for a phone No so i could speak to some one at head office, he told me that head office didn’t

receive Phone calls only made them ( which for a company there size, for a company any size i just can not see, how would you ever operate ??) so i asked for an email address & he mumbled some thing but he didn’t give me one, so i gave up on him,

but i may have given up on him but i hadn’t given up all together & so i phoned 03448158989 & spoke to a chap who said he could not help me BUT gave me an email of customer complaints which i was very grateful for, so i sent an email which telling

them every thing that has happened, its been a week now & iv heard nothing from them ?

so to sum it up, im fed up with the situation & the way i have been treated & i have a tumble dryer which I’m frightened to use

yours sincerely Darren “I’m not giving up” Russell.

Darren, you could try emailing the CEO with your nightmare as sometimes it can achieve results. His surname is Harrison with the same first name as yourself. Do a search on D*** H*** whirlpool email and you should find it. If you find any other heads of departments, copy them as well.

I do hope you manage to get sorted out soon.

Wendy says:
31 October 2016

I have spent hours ‘phoning and emailing Whirlpool on behalf of my elderly Uncle. Each person that I have spoken to has suggested speaking to someone else, but is unable to transfer me meaning that I have had to dial a new number, go through yet another options menu and wait for quite a while to have my call answered. I have also filled out an on-line contact form – that was mid-May and it has not yet been answered despite my having an almost immediate automated response saying that it had been received.
I have also tried buying one of the new models on offer using the return and collect option to minimise cost for Uncle (who is 96 and still terrified that he will go up in flames), however after yet more fruitless calls it transpires that when the email on this was first sent out (early May) the deals where only available via Currys stores in London, Manchester and Birmingham. My two more local stores knew nothing about it. More recently, I was advised that although more Currys stores are on board with the initiative, the nearest store that I could use to collect is 25 miles away.
Only yesterday did I get a modification date using the on-line chat service. However on the chosen day, the appointment is anywhere between 7.15 and 20.00 – clearly an expectation that we all have nothing better to do that wait in for over 12 hours to get this fixed. I am told that i will get a message the evening before the modification date to give me a 3 hour time slot, however it still means clearing my diary the whole day beforehand. Also, despite my asking for confirmation that the engineer will call at Uncle’s address, the confirmation of the appointment showed my address – so another 20 minutes making ‘phone calls to get it clarified. I hope that the appointment works out but have little faith that it will based on my experience over the last six months.

Stephen Dunning says:
1 November 2016

I have a Hotpoint Aquarius GD00 tumble dryer which was working perfectly before the modification. We cleaned the lint drawer regularly and never left it unattended. The modification was carried out on 30 September 2016. When we came to use it on 1 October, the drum would not spin and there was no heat. After a number of calls and live web chats, a further appointment was made for 26 October. The engineer said he needed to replace the motor. The next day, we put on the tumble dryer and within a few minutes the utility room was full of fumes. When the door was opened, a mixture of steam and smoke came pothering out, and the element at the back was glowing red. We immediately turned off the machine and disconnected it from the power supply. The same thing happened the next day plus the element appeared to burn itself out. I phoned Hotpoint Customer Services on 28 October and impressed on them the seriousness of the situation. They filled in a safety report and said someone would contact me within 48 hours. A further repair call was booked for 3 November but I told them this was inconvenient as I had another appointment that day. I was told this could be rearranged when I was contacted. No-one contact me so I Live Chatted on the web site on 1 November. I was told an engineer is required to attend to inspect the appliance and file a report which will then be sent back to the team who will make contact with you shortly after launching an investigation. The visit was rearranged to 9 November as the earliest date when my availability and an engineer appointment coincided. We have been without a tumble dryer for 5 weeks and it will probably go on for another 3 weeks. This is appalling service from Hotpoint/Whirlpool. The fact that a fire almost occurred as a result of their engineer’s failure should have meant that high priority was given to my case and regular communication took place.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Graham Yeomans says:
3 November 2016

Being the owner of a 10 year old Hotpoint condenser dryer that was one of the models recalled I am more than happy about the way Whirlpool handled the problem. After filling in the online form I waited for news of a visit to rectify the problem. Within weeks I received a phone call asking if I would accept a new Whirlpool dryer in exchange…bigger and better and nothing to pay towards it! The new dryer was delivered on December 30th 2015 and my old one taken away. The old one was in excellent condition and the fluff filter cleaned on a regular basis. Graham……. Which? member

There is a current Which? Connect survey for those who have signed up to participate in these surveys.

Dear *****

Do you own a tumble dryer from any of the above brands? If the answer is yes, please read on!

One year on from Whirlpool announcing that millions of their machines are at risk of fire, Which? is continuing to put pressure on Whirlpool to do more for consumers, as well as pressing the Government to improve the product safety system.

There’s a fire-safety problem with tumble dryers from the Whirlpool owned brands: Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan. At least 127 models made between 2004 and 2015 are at risk of catching fire due to fluff building up inside the dryer. 5.3 million dryers are potentially affected and this problem has led to at least 750 fires since 2004.

If you have been affected by this, we’d like to know more about your experience of dealing with the above brands so that we can make sure that the manufacturer is handling this issue in the appropriate way.

Your answers will be used to help us campaign for products to be made safer for consumers.

We anticipate that this survey will close on 10th November.

To begin the survey (which will take about 5-10 minutes) please click on the button below.

I got rid of my tumble dryer a few years ago but those that have one might like to do this survey.

I seem to have lost Which? Connect. I asked Which? to change my email a couple of months ago, then registered again a few weeks ago. But still not getting Connect emails.

Since this problem has been with us for over a year, this survey seems a bit overdue? I tried to see what it was asking but as I don’t have a qualifying dryer it did not want me. I could have cheated but feel it would achieve little. My concern is that whatever the logistical problems Whirlpool face in repairing so many machines, no one has tried to enforce the requirement in SoGA that customers with faulty products should not face significant inconvenience in getting a remedy. Why has this not been done?

I have tried to obtain an updated list of places where the public can view British Standards. I did this once before and a list was forthcoming. This time I was sent an invitation to subscribe, despite the fact that my email could not have been more clear. I have been sent the list as an image file, which I cannot copy and paste into this post. Having also suggested it would be useful to have the information online, I was directed to a page that lists only some of the public libraries mentioned in the email attachment: http://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/about-bsi/uk-national-standards-body/Library-Access-to-Standards/

The London Fire Brigade is campaigning for single, publicly accessible register of product recalls: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/total-recalls/single-publicly-accessible-recall-register.asp

As LFB points out, there is no single, government supported register and consumers must either check individual manufacturer’s websites or use a voluntary service, such as the Electrical Safety First recall register. LFB is focusing on white goods, which would be a good start, though the public really need to know about recalls relating to all the products they own, new or secondhand.

The LFB website encourages users to contact their MP with a view to taking action that could save lives.

The US approach for Samsung

Thanks Patrick. I will have a look. I have long believed that recalls should not be the responsibility of companies. They should be required to report problems they are aware of to an independent body that can make an informed judgement about whether or not a recall is justified.

At present there is a link at the bottom of the page to a recall for Whirlpool microwave ovens which may be a fire risk: “Internal arcing during use can ignite an internal plastic component, posing a fire hazard.” This might be another example of inappropriate use of plastics.

Unless I have missed something, the US example does not seem very different from what would happen in the UK where a product is recalled. If the customer elects to have a repair, there is no indication of how soon this must be done.

The situation with the Whirlpool tumble dryers is that a recall has not yet been issued, despite strong advice that it should do so. I would prefer that decisions about recalls should be made independently, with companies required to pass on all relevant information that could help Trading Standards decide on whether a recall is appropriate.

I can’t imagine some companies – maybe of dubious reputation – beyond our jurisdiction submitting to be “required” to report problems. Certainly it should be a “requirement”, but it is also essential we have a means to collate and investigate reports from users, trade bodies, test organisations, consumer bodies and so on to ensure that safety issues are properly dealt with. Trading Standards should be the central body dealing with this, I believe, but unless we fund them properly we will not properly protect consumers. I’d also query why Trading Standards have not told consumers to cease using affected Indesit dryers until they are repaired or replaced.

Perhaps this is a good topic to use Which?’s super complaint powers – to put some effort behind a properly-administered product registration and recall system?

I put public safety as a higher priority than company wishes, Malcolm. As long as companies are behaving responsibly, then I have no desire to interfere. We regularly debate examples of unsatisfactory behaviour on Which? Convo. Trade bodies are there to serve the interests of their members, so cannot reasonably be expected to help the public. My correspondence with Amdea supports this. I would not have thought that the topic would be relevant as a super-complaint but it is certainly one where we need more input and action from Which?

Registration of products is often linked to lifestyle surveys and competitions and I have little doubt that this is used for marketing. It would be too obvious if registration of a washing machine was used to market tumble dryers, but if contact details are sold to companies selling holidays or double glazing then those who are targeted are unlikely to know what is going on. Yes we need registration of products but that must be in a way that prevents misuse of data.

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I, too, want public safety upheld. However I recognise that some (only a few I hope) companies may be less than willing to be forthcoming (I wonder whether Indesit fell into this category before Whirlpool became involved). and as I said I have in mind those overseas who are beyond our jurisdiction. Therefore we need to face facts and ensure the system covers as many angles as possible.

We should avoid condemning proposals because of what might happen or we’ll make no progress. Rather, we should deal with the downsides. I register my appliances, I tick the “no marketing” box, and I don’t receive any (apart from a reminder from Domestic and General when a guarantee is about to run out; I can live with that). I have proposed that registration at the point of sale automatically should include a “no marketing” instruction (unless the customer requests otherwise).

It is also a shame to condemn trade organisations out of hand. At least AMDEA offer customers a means to register. We can look at their model to help develop a more universal one. All interested bodies need to be involved for their particular insights and expertise.

What is needed is something to happen, how it can be made to work and not why it won’t.

I have suggested earlier that based on all the comments in this and other Convos Which? might put together a suggested recall system for comment.

I had not appreciated this, Duncan. I am concerned that companies often offer discounts on new goods if there is a problem. That’s fine for those who can afford to pay the difference, but what about those that are struggling to make ends meet?

Malcolm – Selecting the no marketing option (why is it often the default that we should receive marketing?) is no guarantee that your details will not be passed on or sold, as I have explained above. You will be aware that most commercial (and many other) websites use cookies to track our visits to websites and their adverts appear when we are using other websites. Many companies (e.g. John Lewis) insist on users accepting cookies. Use of cookies is well understood and many websites including this one show reminders that they use cookies. Information is power these days and I do not believe that we can trust companies not to pass on our contact details. In some well publicised cases, information has been stolen from companies with insecure computer systems.

Setting up a national coordinated system for recalls not only requires the manufacturers, Trading Standards and others involvement to identify and publicise problems, but also a compulsory product registration scheme so owners can be directly contacted for it to be truly effective. We have debated this elsewhere. I hope the Which? are directly involved and proactive in moving this forward. Perhaps they can tell us where the thinking has got to?

Beryl Dixon says:
7 November 2016

I have a Hotpoint tumble dryer which I was informed in 2015 it was at risk of catching fire. I received another letter 2 weeks ago (November 2016) telling me I hadn’t registered my tumble dryer. If that was the case how did that have all my details, including my correct name and address.
People with these dryers now have the option of paying £59 for a swap for a brand new one , or £99 for a new condensing dryer. I have opted for a swap and my new machine will be delivered next week.

Denis says:
9 November 2016

Creda Advance Vented Tumble dryer – tried checking my model number and serial number as displayed on a label in the door. I used the Which magazine supplied website on page 5 of the Which November issue, by the way you must enter http://safety.hotpoint.eu
On entering the site you have to select the ‘I confirm my machine has not got a green dot etc etc. This then gives you two drop down boxes one for model number and another for serial number. The system took the model number, but requested that my serial number follows the pattern as displayed in a picture below the serial number box. Still here or fallen asleep.
It did not accept my serial number as displayed on the label in the door of the tumble dryer! So called the 0800 151 0905, explained the website issue, that my machine is a Creda, gave the model number and serial number to Hotpoint customer service rep, he informed me that the serial number is only 8 digits long, only those with 9 digits are affected. No sorry about the useless website number checking system or I will let them know in I.T. …..
I asked for confirmation of my 8 digit serial number being unaffected, which was my first big mistake, he stated he was going to check so put me on hold.
HOLD was in effect a transfer to a menu talking system, I got through to Customer service and explained all over again, the website issue, the first call made and how I was then put through to him another customer rep called Jack, he was going to check with his manager and put me on hold, but yes you guessed it another talking menu.
On the 5 rep – yes, I can be quite tenacious or stupid or both – I got through to Mohammed on yet another number 0800 068 3122, he finally informed me that no one will provide a confirmation that my Creda machine is unaffected. So in effect, I will of course have no recourse for legal action should the machine catch fire in the future.
The wonderful world of Customer Service. As a very experienced Senior Executive I can state quite categorically that in my wide experience an awful lot of companies JUST DO NOT GET IT. IT being Customer Service, they talk about it, plaster it all over their literature and website, but they really do not understand what it is, what the true benefits are (long term), what the customer actually expects, what it is not, and how to implement it across the enterprise. The Hotpoint / whirlpool/ Creda / Indesit implementation is just a telephone number at best. So sleep easy if you dare in the knowledge that a person told you on the phone that 8 digit serial numbers are unaffected, although of course, my serial numbers and model numbers do not match their pattern!!

Thanks Denis for taking the trouble to persevere and then report here. Shambolic is way too polite for this matter.

Come on Which? you have had a year to nail this by getting into the guts of the machine and run tests yourself.

I am really happy with the service I received from whirlpool. I checked my model on line and it waa one of the affected models . I then recieved an email stating some one would contact me to arrange an engineer to attend with an approx time frame , and the advice was not to leave it unattended if it was used and to clean the filters after each time it was used . About a month later but within the time frame given I recieved an email offering me the opportunity to wait for the repair or exchange my faulty drier for a brand new one and given two choices both at a large discounted rate. I was really surprised given the age of my old one so was more than happy to take the replacement offer .
It was exchanged the same week and they even took away the faulty drier . Very pleased

Once again I would like to raise awareness of the danger of using plastics in tumble dryers and other appliances. Here is a recent example where the plastic parts of the casing have been destroyed by fire.

A simple Google search of recent images of will show many other examples of control panels, doors and top panels that have burned or melted. In contrast, steel parts of the casing will remain intact..

Fires can start in any appliance but an all-metal casing will contain it because steel survives household fires and will prevent oxygen in the air feeding the fire.

Please could we have a campaign for safe appliances?

Would it be a reasonable assumption that all-metal casings are more likely to be found on the more expensive appliances, so the consequences of a fire are more likely to affect those least able to afford a new machine and might not have adequate insurance cover to replace items destroyed in a fire?

I don’t know as yet, but would be interested to find out if price or brand is a factor. I do not see a problem with plastic on top of an all-metal case because the latter should contain a fire. The only exception I know was the Bosch dishwasher problem were machines were recalled because of fires within the plastic control panel. This is entirely avoidable if low voltage and low current are used in the controls – something quite standard in other electronic products.

The majority of modern tumble dryers and washing machines that I have looked at do have plastic on top of the case. That may be to provide protection from damage if used as a work surface or if stacked with another appliance. It does not mean that there is no metal case behind.

Did you mean “entirely avoidable” [instead of “unavoidable”] in line three?

A few hours spent at a municipal tip with access to the white goods might provide a wealth of information, Wavechange.

I think you are right about the casings – usually there is a pressed steel sheet that goes up the left, across the top, and down the right side of the appliance as one piece and it is finished with a plastic or laminated top to serve as a work surface [for where the machine is freestanding, not under a counter] and to provide better load-spreading for another appliance stacked above it. The casings used to be enamelled but nowadays the metal is thinner and the external surface is painted and baked, nevertheless they will contain a fire and limit damage to adjacent articles. Remote control technology might enable rationalisation of the fascia to reduce the amount of exposed plastic material; would glass encasement help? The overall objective must be to put safety ahead of price and compensate for a higher price through increased durability.

Thanks John. I have corrected the error.

The control panel or fascia can be plastic provided that the wiring between it and internal components of the machine pass through a small hole, ideally lined with intumescent material as we have discussed before. Glass would need to be borosilicate (e.g. Pyrex) to avoid cracking if a fire developed. Yes – let’s put safety first.

Here are some photos of burned out washing machines, showing how use of plastics instead of metal has made them incapable of containing a fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBcI4r-FIw4

Washing machines and tumble dryers often open bases, as shown in a couple of the photos. This means that when plastics are destroyed, air can enter and the machine casing acts as a chimney, allowing fire to spread.

The current Whirlpool problems could help us explore a more general problem. I would be interested to know if any currently manufactured tumble dryers or washing machines use all-metal cases.

It would be interesting if Which? Connect did a survey to find out how many people have a fire extinguisher or a fire blanket or both in a convenient place for use if an appliance catches fire.

Number of domestic house fires 35,000 from one source and number of households 23.2m from ONS. One chance in 6600 of a fire occurring in a year. I suspect if we categorised fires by cause and leave out smokers and people who think candles are great the odds would be even better.

And of course a fire blanket or fire extinguisher may not be suitable or capable of dealing with the type of fire. Looking at the data it would suggest ovens would benefit from some re-design. However on the basis of usage per day the incidence is very low.

I actually do have a fire blanket and even knew where it was. But I am not convinced that making additional precautions mandatory would make much overall difference – particularly with the cost of replacing fire extinguishers.

If there is a survey, and I sincerely hope it is a good survey, then I hope they include a question on whether people have actually ever used them.

A breakdown of causes of fires …. I have removed some extraneous information.

Smoking related materials, etc 2974
Cigarette lighters 250
Smoking materials 2724

Matches 388
Candles 1025

Cooking appliances 16549
Barbecue 213
Camping stove 70
Cooker incl. oven 9965
Deep fat fryer 577
Grill/Toaster 2054
Microwave oven 1294
Other cooking appliance 348
Ring/hot plate (separate appliance) 2028

Space heating appliances 1562
Patio equipment 41

Heating/Fire 1140
Other heating equipment 381
Central and water heating appliances 406
Central heating/ Hot water 330
Separate water heating 76
Blowlamps,welding and cutting equipment 605
Welding/Cutting equipment 461
Blow lamp/ Paint remover 144

Electrical distribution 7761
Apparatus – batteries, generators 2023
Wiring, cabling, plugs 5622
Heating equipment – Power Source 116

Other electrical appliances 1890
Fairy lights 17
Fluorescent lights 895
Spot lights 375
Other incandescent light bulbs 282
Other lights 321

Office equipment 97
Personal Computer 45
Copiers/ Printers 14
Other computer equipment 29
Telephone/Answering machine/Fax machine 6
Vending equipment 3

Other domestic style appliance 3469
Audio equipment 35
Battery charger 109
Dishwasher 399
Electric blanket 50
Electric kettle 48
Extractor fan 265
Fridge/Freezer 430
Hair dryer 61
Iron 60
PC equipment (domestic use) 33
Spin dryer 58
Trouser press 0
Tumble dryer 979
Vacuum cleaner 41
TV 79
Video/DVD 7
Other electrical visual equipment 27
Washing machine 566
Washer/Dryer combined 77
Other domestic style appliance 145
Other appliance or equipment 356

We did have both in the kitchen. The fire extinguisher was years out of date so went to the tip. I still have a fire extinguisher in my car but not sure what the expiry date is, probably also out of date by now !!!

I seem to have lost Which? Connect when I changed email addresses although I have signed up again I still have not heard anything.

Those are interesting statistics, Patrick.

I appreciate that fire blankets or fire extinguishers might not be suitable for all fires [if I remember rightly it’s a wet tea towel for flaming chip pans] but it’s not a bad idea to have one because it seems that everything except my trouser press is a potential fire risk. I wouldn’t suggest they should be mandatory but insurance companies could offer an incentive to have them.

We have fire extinguishers but I must admit it’s some time since I checked the expiry dates.

I support John’s suggestion of having a survey on fire extinguishers. The most common type sold for domestic use is the dry powder extinguisher. On standing, the contents of these extinguishers can settle and consolidate and the extinguisher may not work properly when needed, even though the pressure gauge remains in the green section. When this happens, you might as well use the extinguisher to beat out the fire. My understanding is that shaking dry powder extinguishers regularly can help to prevent this happening.

I posted this comment in the wrong place and notice that John has suggested laying dry powder extinguishers on their sides. That could well be helpful and I wonder where this advice comes from.

It comes from yours truly. I noticed the fire extinguishers on local buses were installed in landscape format in a compartment behind the driver.

In a business, like a bus or a shop, fire extinguishers are likely to be on service contracts, so they will get replaced when they go out-of-date.

Timely intervention with an appropriate extinguisher may put out a small fire before it can turn into a big one – but, where practicable, it is much better to prevent the fire in the first place.

At home, I actually have 2 small ABC dry powder extinguishers and a fire blanket. Both my extinguishers are past their “best before” dates but might still work better than no extinguisher at all. ABC is nasty and messy to use – but if it puts out a fire then that is the lesser of two evils.

For electrical fires, CO2 extinguishers are often the recommended best type of extinguisher to use. Many business like shops and hotels seem to provide CO2 extinguishers alongside another type for other sorts of fires, e.g. water, water mist, foam or ABC.

As you say, non-domestic fire extinguishers have to be serviced. This discussion has reminded me to get ones belonging to a charity done in January.

It is difficult to appreciate the mess that a dry powder extinguisher makes until you use one for the first time. Carbon dioxide extinguishers make no mess but really need to be in a fairly confined environment to work effectively – and there is a danger of asphyxiation if used in a confined space.

I have dry powder extinguishers in the utility room and hall cupboard, a 6 kg one in the workshop and one in the car. When our charity runs an outdoor event such as a barbecue I take a couple of extinguishers.

Has Whirlpool provided any guidance on smoke alarms and fire extinguishers for those unlucky owners of unmodified tumble dryers?

I doubt it Wavechange. I did suggest some time ago that those still waiting for the modifications or a replacement machine should at least be given a smoke alarm. And why not an insurance policy as well? While appreciating the enormous logistical problem they have bought with the take-over of Indesit I do think they could have helped machine owners better than they have.

A very worthwhile suggestion, John. We tend to think about the fairness of competition when there are major takeovers and mergers but perhaps it is time to consider whether companies have the resources to cope with this sort of problem. I wonder if Whirlpool have pulled in independent service engineers to help deal with the required modifications.

Some of the members of the BSI committees dealing with “Safety of household and similar electrical appliances”:

Association of Consulting Scientists
Consumer and Public Interest Network
(If standards are to have a real impact it’s essential that the people who use products and services – consumers – help create them. That’s what the Consumer & Public Interest Network (CPIN) is for. It represents consumers’ views and makes sure that new standards really make a difference for consumers.
CPIN consists of a mix of ordinary consumers with some relevant experience and experts from organizations like Which?, Citizens Advice and the National Consumer Federation. CPIN also includes environmental groups e.g. the UK Sustainability Network for Standardisation (UK SNS), as well as non-industry groups with a societal focus, e.g. charities, academic research groups, and relevant professional associations such as the Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors.)
I E T – Institution of Engineering and Technology
London Fire Brigade
H S E – Health and Safety Executive

I’d expect these people to be considering matters that have been raised in this Convo and to bring their expertise to help improve standards, particularly the London Fire Brigade in relation to fire mitigation.

I’m glad to see Which? mentioned; perhaps Which? could explain what direct role they play in BSI’s activities and what committees they regularly contribute to, both directly and as a member of CPIN. I have suggested that Which? collates good ideas generated by its subscribers and Convo contributors and puts them to the BSI Committees for consideration. I’d like to know whether they do this as a routine. @jbamforth, could Which? tell us what it does please?

Misplaced post deleted.

. . . . Or lay them on their side which we do.

I think a fire blanket, not too near the cooker, would be a good first purchase if you do any deep fat/oil cooking. (I regret we don’t cook in deep fat, as I love proper home-made chips, so we don’t have one). Probably useful for other small fires.

Unless fire exctinguishers are regularly checked and serviced they may well lull you into a false sense of security. Maybe the local fire service could offer sale and service packages on a commercial basis to help residents, and its own funds. I would imagine a private inspection and service contract for a home would be expensive.

If you tell people it could save their dog’s life they’ll go for it whatever the cost. I think some precautions are worth it if only to reduce the potential damage. It’s like an insurance policy; it costs a lot and you hope never to have to use it. I certainly think the fire and rescue services could branch out more in fire prevention and precautions and the additional income could stave off the decline of the services and get the public on their side a bit more.

Some give and fit smoke alarms. I would have thought fire extinguishers would be a good partner and could well save the fire brigade a trip.

Surprisingly not mandatory
” A spokesman for the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said when the crew arrived, three men were found on board. The three men were all given oxygen therapy at the scene before being transferred to the University Hospital of Wales by ambulance.Firefighters then used a PPV fan to ventilate the motor boat.

Back in August, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) issued a warning after the deaths of a couple on their motor cruiser in the Norfolk Broads. The safety bulletin recommended that carbon monoxide alarms, similar to those used in caravans and homes, were fitted to boats.It also highlighted the many sources of carbon monoxide on board including engines, generators, solid fuel burners and cookers.

Alan Frost and Tina Wilkins, along with their pet dog, died in June on board the Doral 250 SE motor cruiser, Love for Lydia, at Wroxham, Norfolk.”

In the absence of a fire blanket, a damp (not wet) towel can be used for a fat fire. Many years ago, I used an M&S teatowel to put out a fire in a pan when a neighbour hammered on the door in a state of panic. An extinguisher could make matters worse by sending flaming fat round the room.

Having fire extinguishers serviced is expensive and may not be worth it with 1 kg dry powder types, which are available cheaply.

When house hunting earlier this year, every house had smoke alarms but not one had any alarm in the kitchen or utility room, including the house I bought. For the kitchen I installed a heat alarm on the ceiling above the hob and oven and hung a smoke alarm on a hook at the other side of the room. If set off by cooking I press the button to silence it and if it goes off again I put it in the dining room. Many prefer not to have a smoke alarm in the kitchen but if an appliance or something else goes on fire I would prefer to know as soon as possible. Over the years my kitchen smoke alarms have probably saved a few non-stick pans from being destroyed when they have boiled dry.

I had not heard of a heat alarm until you just mentioned it wavechange.

People tend to put smoke alarms in their kitchens, then remove the batteries because they get fed up with false alarms. So a heat alarm sounds a good alternative with a smoke alarm just outside the kitchen.

The problem with a smoke alarm just outside the kitchen is that it will not work if the door is shut. In other rooms it’s best to follow the instructions and put smoke alarms on the ceiling but having one on a shelf or picture hook in the kitchen means that it is easy to silence them temporarily or move them away from cooking smoke. A heat alarm will not be a nuisance but it would not give early warning if an appliance caught fire.

Heat alarms used to be found mainly in rental and commercial property small battery operated ones can be found in DIY shops. I bought one of these recently.

Edit: Having looked at what is available online, I see that some models have a button to silence them temporarily, like many smoke alarms do. Maybe they are not as insensitive as I had assumed.