Government under pressure to act on fire safety

publication date: Sep 14, 2017
 | 
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

London Fire Brigade calls for centralised product recall register

Fire safety is uppermost in many people’s minds following the horrific events at Grenfell Tower in London this summer, when more than 80 people died.

With the fire believed to have started with a fridge, and data showing many household fires originating from electrical goods, the London Fire Brigade has urged PM Theresa May to take ‘urgent action’ on white goods safety.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has sent a letter, signed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Electrical Safety First chief executive Phil Buckle, to the Prime Minister to call for:

  • a single register for UK product recalls, set up centrally on gov.uk

  • government support for changes to the way fridges and freezers are made, to keep flammable materials separate from components which could cause a fire

  • government support for appliances to be more easily identifiable after a fire

London Fire Brigade says a review of the UK product recall system was first announced in 2014 but, almost three years later, it is still not up and running.

Dany Cotton said: “How many more devastating white goods fires do there have to be before the Government makes it easier for consumers to check whether their fridges and freezers are on the recall list?”

The number and cost involved from appliance fires is really scary and these are just from London:

  • London fire crews attend around one fire a day involving white goods

  • London Fire Brigade alone has attended 2,170 fires involving faulty white goods since 2010

  • From 2010 to 2016, there were nine fire deaths and 298 injuries as a result of fires involving white goods in London

Which? have given their full support to the campaign. Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services, said: “The current product safety system is broken and potentially putting people’s lives at risk. The Government must put consumers first.”

How to keep you, your family and tenants safe:

White goods safety advice
Safety experts Electrical Safety First are also lobbying the government to provide fee compulsory electrical checks for homes in high-rise apartment blocks.

Currently the government says there is an ‘expectation’ on landlords to keep electrical installations safe. Electrical Safety First want to take this further so have written to Margot James MP, the minister responsible, to call for a new policy which makes housing associations and local authorities responsible for:

  • ensuring free mandatory electrical safety checks, including fixed installations and applications

  • keeping a register of white goods in tower blocks, regardless of tenure, and ensuring tenants have registered their appliances

The organisation has the following home appliance advice for all householders:

  • Buy from a reputable dealer or manufacturer

  • Always register your appliances – this allows manufacturers to contact you if a fault occurs and a recall is necessary

  • Check your electrical products here, where you can also sign up for an email notification when a new product is added to the recall list

  • Even if a product is not listed, if you have any doubt about its safety, always contact the retailer or manufacturer

Visit Electrical Safety First’s white goods safety site.

Watch out for the worst offending white goods

The top five domestic appliances for causing fires due to a fault in 2015-16 in England were:

  • Washing machine – 449

  • Tumble dryer – 440

  • – 291

  • – 192

  • Extractor fan – 113

Figures shown are for England in 2015-16, according to government data.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables#cause-of-fire (FIRE0605)

Smoke alarms fail safety test
Meanwhile, a Which? investigation revealed alarming discrepancies in the performance of some of the most popular smoke alarms, even those which meet the British Standard.

In four controlled tests of 15 alarms, Which? discovered wide variations in response times… and one alarm, the Devolo Home Control Smoke Detector, failed to sound at all.

Which? are now recommending that people do not use the Devolo Home Control Smoke Detector.
As every second counts when it comes to escaping from a fire, Which? is now calling for new, tougher standards that only rewards models which sound more quickly. The findings have also been passed on to Trading Standards and BSI (formerly the British Standards Institution).

You can read more about the Which? investigation here.

Renting a property - Safeagent Electrical Safety for Landlords - ESF Home Electrical Safety - NAPIT

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