Every good fictional story needs certain elements in it such as drama, a hero and a villain to be loathed by the reader or viewer and with the tumble dryer tale, Whirlpool is the villain.
The hero of the tale is a little less clear of course as they all vie for pole position and get their name in the media, often simply regurgitating that which has been said before. With a story as big as the one surrounding the Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda dryers that allow for dramatic “fire” headlines we guessed that this might be the case.
So what we’re going do here is to systematically demonstrate how the latest press release form the Local Government Association (LGA) is largely a load of utter tripe that has been poorly researched. If it has been properly researched and the facts known then, it’s just a PR exercise to get press.
Press release in green.
Dangerous tumble dryers prone to exploding into flames need recalling urgently to avoid people “playing Russian roulette” as new figures reveal firefighters are attending three fires a day caused by the appliances.
This is quite possible, how many were the firefighters responding to before this recall or indeed before these dryers were even being made, we’d guess at about the same or not a lot less.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 48 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales, is calling on leading manufacturers to recall faulty tumble dryers which have been linked to thousands of fires caused by excess fluff contacting heating elements.
Please see several articles that we have published over many years stating that this is the number one cause of problems where a fire incident occurs and in almost all cases it is as a direct result of poor maintenance. Which has in fact been noted several time by the same fire and rescue authorities many times over many years.
Government statistics show there were 2,190 tumble dryer fires between 2012 and 2014 – equating to three a day.
Rehash of the previous statement.
Homes have been ruined and in some cases, the machines have burst into flames as people loaded them with clothes. An inquest has opened into the deaths of two men who died after a tumble dryer caught fire.
There is an inquest that we believe is ongoing and we would fully expect that to demonstrate that the cause was due to the usual circumstances however, unlike the LGA we wouldn’t jump to any conclusions until all the facts are available.
As for machines magically bursting into flames for no reason, sorry but we don’t understand that at all and have seen no evidence to support that notion to date.
It is also of note that we have not seen any published evidence or completed cases to support that any of these tumble dryers having a fault have caused any of the incidents. It is entirely possible that many if not all are a result of improper maintenance.
The LGA is warning that companies who are running lengthy repair programmes for potentially dangerous machines, instead of recalling them, are risking the lives of millions of customers.
A meaningless statement without naming the obvious company in order to avoid any potential legal action for what is bordering on libellous statements that, in part on the face of this appear untrue. All that we can see here is a comment designed to engender more anger and vilify Whirlpool. A cheap shot in other words.
It is calling on manufacturers to recall affected tumble dryers and for all white goods to have fire-proof markings on them, including the manufacturer, model and serial number, so they can be identified more easily if they are damaged after causing a fire.
We have already explained several times that a “recall” such as we think is being asked for here as, what is being requested isn’t exactly very clear, is not practical.
And what an idiotic statement to have all whitegoods made fire proof. Apart from it being technically not possible the cost to achieve even getting close would be substantial.
The appliances already carry a rating plate on them. Every one.
Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said:
“People using faulty tumble dryers are unwittingly playing Russian roulette and leading manufacturers need to recall affected models as soon as possible to protect their customers.
A recall will do little. Giving people another dryer will do little if they continue to use it without proper care and regard to safety as any dryer can go on fire just as any cooker can.
“Firefighters are attending tumble dryer fires three times a day, which is alarming. These defective products are endangering lives, causing thousands of pounds of damage to homes and making people homeless.
“People’s safety must be the priority. It’s been months since some manufacturers issued safety warnings over their tumble dryers but they need to be recalled as these appliances are still causing fires - until they do so, consumers continue to risk falling victim to a devastating and tragic house fire.
And if they are not correctly maintained, with the tumble dryer safety tips not followed the fires will continue, without any shred of doubt.
“Fire-proof markings on all white goods would also help improve manufacturing and safety standards by helping fire investigators identify the make and model of any appliance damaged after causing a fire.
“People must take simple precautions using tumble dryers. The compartment where fibres from fabric build up should be cleaned out after every load of clothes is dried, to reduce the risk of it igniting, and the vent or any other opening should not be covered.
“People should never leave tumble dryers on overnight or when they go out. Anyone buying an electrical item should complete the guarantee registration to ensure goods which do not meet safety specifications are repaired, replaced or refunded. This also enables manufacturers to contact owners in the event of a product recall.
"People also need to ensure they have a working smoke alarm - which can be a life-saver - in the event something does go wrong and test them regularly, ideally once a week.”
Finally, the common sense and proper advice in all of this!
Anyone with concerns about the safety of electrical appliances can report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
Who probably will not be able to do much about it.
It is disheartening and even a bit sad that the LGA has to resort to tactics like this to get their name in the papers and to capitalise on a story that has largely been rung dry already.
But the glorification of what is a concern to being some sort of new problem affecting just one manufacturer is factually wrong. To use the wording such as “exploding”, “fire risk” and so on to try to get attention when the reality is not that seems a bit tacky and we certainly wouldn’t have expected a respected organisation to have made such errors.
At least the proper advice is there, albeit not the headline news and perhaps that was the point, make people think about it and realise that owners have a massive part to play in maintaining the machines properly in order that such problems never occur.
Our opinion is that the design issue with the dryers that are being vilified in the press and, pretty much anywhere if someone thinks it’ll get them press or airtime, are more susceptible to incorrect or poor maintenance sure, we’d accept that without issue. However it is also very true that all dryers suffer or can suffer from risks of failure if they are not correctly maintained but the user.
If you remove emotion or any agenda and take a pragmatic and logical approach to the problem highlighted then the advice is just the same as we and even the fire authorities have been issuing for many years.