Grenfell fire: one blaze every day in London ’caused by white goods’

One fire every day in London is caused by white goods, the London Fire Brigade has said after it emerged the Grenfell Tower blaze was caused by a faulty fridge.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) is calling for manufacturers to use metal rather than cheaper plastic to make the backs of fridges in order to protect flammable polyurethane insulation from components that could cause a blaze. 

LFB says in a statement online: “There is currently no legal requirement or industry standard that outlines this insulation material must be isolated or protected from fire.”

“A significant number of fires which start in fridges and freezers start in components called capacitors. When capacitors are used in fridges and freezers it should be done in a way that prevents them starting fires, even if they do fail.”

LFB has also called for a central register of product recalls, better publicity of faults and recalls, and greater regulation of secondhand appliances as part of its campaign.

In 2014, a coroner blamed a defrost timer on a Beko fridge freezer for starting a fire, which killed 36-year-old Santosh Benjamin Muthiah.

The father-of-two was able to save his two daughters, but died two days after he was overcome by smoke at his home in Wealdstone in November 2010.

Coroner Andrew Walker recorded a narrative verdict at North London Coroner’s Court, and accepted wide-ranging recommendations put forward by Hertfordshire Trading Standards and LFB about the way in which safety problems are recorded and how irresponsible manufacturers should be punished.

Last month, Beko issued a safety alert for thousands of tumble dryers, including one model found to have caused a blaze that killed a mother-of-two, as it began a voluntary repair programme “as a precautionary measure”.

The safety notice concerned five Beko and Blomberg 8kg and 9kg capacity dryers sold between May and November 2012 and carrying the model numbers DCU9330W, DCU9330R, DCU8230, DSC85W and TKF8439A.

In August last year, a coroner found that a defective Beko DCS 85W – listed as DSC85W under the safety alert – caused a house fire that killed mother-of-two Mishell Moloney in her bedroom, although Beko stressed that the fault relating to the fatal fire was separate from the problem identified in the safety alert.

The 49-year-old was found to have died after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes and smoke caused by a small fire in the tumble dryer in the downstairs kitchen.

Birmingham Coroner’s Court heard that Beko had received reports of 20 previous fires in the same model, but none had the defect thought to have caused the blaze that killed Ms Moloney.

In February, Whirlpool upgraded a warning to consumers with faulty Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda dryers to unplug the potentially dangerous machines until they have been repaired.

Fire chiefs warned in October last year that owners of the faulty dryers must stop using them immediately, after one of the machines was found to be the cause of a huge blaze in an 18-storey tower block in Shepherd’s Bush in west London.

LFB said it believed a faulty Indesit dryer was the cause of the August 19 2016 blaze, following a “painstaking” investigation.

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