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In this morning’s Sun newspaper there is a report of another Beko tumble dryer that has apparently burst into flames.

Beko appliances new logoAs usual with these reports there is a certain degree of dramatisation in it. Yes the damage does look to be extensive but it didn’t “explode” as the Sun purports. And, we very much doubt it burst into a “fireball” either.

The tumble dryer went on fire on Wednesday of last week and gutted the lower floor of the family’s home in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.

It gets interesting for us as the owner saw flames inside the dryer in the condenser area and tried to put them out with a wet tea towel the report states which would seem to indicate that it was something in the base that caught light. About all that is in that area is a pump, the condenser, housing and the motor behind it, not a lot that could potentially catch light and certainly nothing that could get this out of control, in our opinion.

Which would tend to suggest that there was residual lint or fluff in there that caught fire.

Of course we cannot determine that for sure as all we have is the report to go on but the report as given certainly points in that direction.

Catriona Casey, the lady that owns the dryer told the Sun that she believes the machine’s manufacturer (Beko) is partly to blame for the fire, and added: “First of all they need to think how they make these things. It is not just me who has been affected.

“How can there be that many incidents if they are making them properly?

“The fire was in the bottom of the machine and it wasn’t my fault.

“I’ve been so careful in the past and would never leave the tumbler on at night.

“I took care of my appliances. I am not the type of person to neglect them.

“I used to clean the filter after every use and the condenser more than every month.”

Beko have responded to the Sun by saying that, “We take any reported issue with our products incredibly seriously and treat them with the upmost priority.

“We have no record of being contacted by Miss Casey or the Cambridgeshire Fire Service regarding this incident so we are unable to comment any further on this matter.

“We will of course investigate this issue as a matter of urgency if a Beko product is involved.”

Beko are quite right, the incident will need to be investigated and the actual cause found before anyone starts catching the blame for the incident as, right now, there is none to support any conclusion. Only speculation.

Baying for blood with no evidence seems to us, a bit silly.

Tumble Dryer Fire Safety

But here’s the thing we keep banging on about on this site, any tumble dryer can go on fire if it is not maintained 100% correctly. We are sorry if that’s not what people want to hear or be told but it is, we are afraid the truth of the matter.

Manufacturers tell people that maintenance is vital in user instructions, we have several articles on it spanning back years including a dedicated tumble dryer safety tips page and, if they are not followed then users are putting themselves at risk.

We see the machines in the field, we know that the vast majority of them are not cared for as they should be.

User Responsibility

Just recently information has come to light on electrical fires by the Electrical Safety Council who highlight that common errors that lead to a fire incident are the following:

  • Creating a fire hazard by using the top of a microwave as an additional surface and therefore blocking air vents (33%)
  • Increasing the risk of serious fire spreading by leaving the tumble dryer running unattended or overnight (9%)
  • Overloading adaptor sockets, which causes an unsafe rise in temperature (16%)
  • Failing to clean behind the fridge/freezer, leading to air vents becoming blocked (44%)
  • Leaving electrical appliances on unattended and only being alerted by a burning smell (9%)

And in a full report of fire incidents from the UK government you can see that the number of fire incidents has fallen substantially over time which would suggest that, in fact, that we are all safer than we’ve ever been. Perhaps lulled into a false sense of security.

When you dig into the figures you find that over half of the sources of domestic fires are attributed to cooking appliances. Which is no great shock as it’s usually what’s cooking that will ignite and the whole cooking process involves grill pan fires, toasters and all manners of really common fire hazards.

You can view the full report here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/456652/Fire_Statistics_Great_Britain_2013-14___PDF_Version_.pdf

Fire safety data chart

Most people are aware and take precautions to ensure that they don’t have a fire with cooking products as we all know they can be a fire hazard.

Other “electrical appliances” which will cover a gamut of things, including washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and goodness knows what all else accounts for only 12% of incidents. Which says to us that, despite the cries from the media, that appliances are probably very safe overall.

If we had the data broken down into the various appliances we are quite sure that the incidents would be dwarfed by other problems. If you then could somehow get the numbers on what was a genuine fault and what was user error or poor maintenance you’d probably find that there weren’t really many incidents that could be attributed to the manufacturers.

Which is why that time and again we reenforce the notion that appliances must be installed and maintained correctly, smoke alarms fitted and working and then they must be used properly. Not doing so invites a risk.

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