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60 fires a week linked to faulty appliances

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Faulty household appliances, such as washing machines, tumble dryers and fridge-freezers, are causing more than 60 fires every week, finds consumer group Which?

Malfunctioning kitchen appliances have caused almost 16,000 fires across the UK since 1 April 2012.

Faulty washing machines and tumble dryers were the biggest culprits, accounting for more than a third (35%) of fires between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016, equivalent to 20 fires per week on average. Other high-risk appliances include cookers and ovens (11%), dishwashers (10%) and fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers (8%).

The data also showed that a number of brands appeared more vulnerable than others. (These were disputed by a number of the brands, who questioned the reliability of the Fire and Rescue Service statistics on which the Which? research is based)

All data is from fires linked to faulty appliances and leads, and where the brand was identified. Dishwasher brands Hotpoint was linked to more than a third (34%) of the dishwasher fires. Indesit was linked to 10%.

Refrigeration brand Beko was linked to a quarter of refrigeration fires while Hotpoint was linked to nearly one in five (17%). Hoover was linked to 12% of tumble dryer fires, while Hotpoint was linked to almost a third (31%). Washing machine brands Haier was linked to 6% of washing machine fires, while Hoover was linked to 12% of fires.

Hoover and Whirlpool (which owns both the Hotpoint and Indesit brands) criticised Which?’s methodology and findings. Whirlpool said in a statement: “These claims are based on unreliable and inaccurate data. The Government has advised that the accuracy of Fire and Rescue Service incident data cannot be guaranteed and should not be relied upon to make judgements about particular appliance makes or models.”

Hoover said that its appliances comply with all safety laws. Haier told Which? that the affected models are no longer being made and that it has improved its safety standards. Beko said it was not aware of any instance where a Beko refrigeration appliance manufactured since 2007 has been proved to be the cause of a single fire.

Which? has written to the government, giving it 90 days to publish an action plan for the new Office for Product Safety and Standards, launched last month, as part of its ‘End Dangerous Products’ campaign.

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