We've sat back and watched, commented on occasion and watched some more on this topic and we've said repeatedly that dryer fires are common and that there's really not much can be done as it's not, in our opinion always a design flaw despite that being the go-to explanation in the media at large.
Here's the thing, what goes on fire is usually what is put into it and a build up of fluff or lint. The fluff and lint isn't put there by the manufacturer and the reason it builds up is often due to poor care and maintenance by users. Now, people can berate that opinion all they like but, the repairers see blocked filters and excessive lint every day so, our evidence that is 100% factually based on seeing scores of them would seem to suggest that this is the case. Despite protestations otherwise.
Worst of it is, the evidence is charred lump so proving the case, either way, can be difficult if possible.
But in any tumble dryer, there's really not a lot that can actually burn, other than what people put in them.
With tumble dryer fires back in the news of late on the BBC Watchdog program with both that and the consumer organisation Which? Demanding a full recall of Whirlpool dryers we bought we'd add a little perspective as, it was timely and purely by chance that we caught report this from the USA:
See what we mean?
Every time it's sensationalised in the media and questions are asked about the design, is it faulty, what can manufacturers do to make them safer etc? Same old, same old.
Only this time it was highlighted that most are caused by blockages or amassed lint, which is a sensible reason for most dryer fires.
But goes onto mention the build-up of lint inside the dryer that is part of a lawsuit against Electrolux.
A striking similarity to the shenanigans here with Whirlpool who bought the "problem" created when the brand(s) in question were under the control of Hotpoint but, it goes back farther than that.
The common factor in it all, regardless of almost which case you look at anywhere in the world, lint build up in the dryer or blockage that is virtually always as a result of poor airflow caused by a failure to clean the filters regularly enough so far as we can see.
From your perspective, there are a few things you can do to completely mitigate risks or as much as is possible.
You could insist on a fire suppression system to be installed wherever there's a dryer or other appliances as is the case in some regions but, that's not really practical even if it is the best solution.
You could try to get owners to maintain them properly but every one that has gone up the owners seem to claim that they always cleaned the filters in accordance with the instructions which we find, somewhat difficult to believe based on what is seen in the field.
You could just ban tumble dryers completely, as a species we all coped without them for thousands of years.
You could make heat pump ones all you can buy, hang the cost and additional materials, maintenance and slow drying performance.
Or, you could make regular maintenance by a professional mandatory in some way then any issues would be noticed and rectified mitigating any danger.
But the choices are limited and to design something that gets pretty hot (and has to do do the job) blowing what air over what are potentially flammable items that create lint and fluff that needs to be cleared out foolproof and 100% safe if not looked after correctly is a big ask of manufacturers.
It can probably be done but, people are going to have to understand that it will come at a cost, probably a considerable one.
Do we care if people don't want to hear this and would rather blame the manufacturer, not really. So long as people pay attention and maintain their appliance correctly they will last longer, work better and hopefully will never go up in flames!