Between 2013-2014 there was 13,300 house fires caused by appliances, attributing to 64% of all accidental fires in dwellings. The most common source of house fires in the UK originate from cooking appliances, accounting for 52% of all accidental fires, often because they are left unattended.
However faulty appliances accounts for almost a third of these fires, with approximately 3,000 to 4,000 fires each yearcaused by defective household products. Faulty appliances accounts for £41.6 million of damage each year.
Which appliances caused the most fires?
- 14% Washing Machines
- 12% tumble dryers
- 11% dishwashers
- 9% fridges / freezers
- 5% central heating
- 4% toasters / grills
- 4% microwaves
- 3% TVs
- 2% electric blanket
- 2% washer dryers
- 1% irons
(Source: Which? Magazine, fires between March 2011 – March 2014)
On the 3rd of February a family from Surrey were forced to flee their home after their tumble dryer burst into flames. Indesit, the manufacturer of the tumble dryer, had issued a warning last November that some of their machines were a fire hazard and that it would take an engineer just an hour to fix the problem.
However the Garnham’s were told by Indesit in December that their machine just needed a part to be repaired and that the waiting time for an engineer to fix the issue would be 4-8 weeks. The family made contact again in January and were told again that it would still take 4-8 weeks but they could still use the machine whilst they were in the house.
The family are now living out of a hotel, provided for by the council, after being left homeless. Indesit have said that consumers need to register on their website to be put on the repair waiting list, which would provide an estimated repair date within 10 weeks.
Phone chargers are a growing source of household fires. In Sheffield last June, 5 people died in a house fire, including 3 children, because of a faulty phone charger.
Fires originating from chargers of electrical devices are becoming a frequent source because of the increased average number of devices per household and also because of the cheap availability of unbranded chargers. Low-priced chargers for phones, Ipads and other devices are often not made for a single specific product unlike the chargers which come with the device. Different devices require different amounts of power and discount chargers are made to deliver a set output. Cheap chargers can provide too much energy to the battery causing it to overheat, and on occasional, can be enough to start a fire.
Liability for damage caused by defective products will fall upon the manufacturer. Compensation can be claimed it is proven that the cause of the fire originated from a faulty appliance and the manufacturers negligence or omissions.
Many argue that the product recall system is inefficient right now and the government needs to introduce legislation to address the issue. Campaigns such as ‘Expect It’s Safe’ have also emerged to put extra pressure on manufacturers to make the public more aware when there is a fault with their products and instil an ethos of safety and responsibility over profits.
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