Thousands of people could have white goods with potentially lethal defects sitting in their kitchens, warn fire chiefs.
New London Fire Service figures reveal there is on average nearly one fire a day in the capital, involving white goods such as dishwashers, washing machines, tumble dryers, fridges and freezers. In 90% of cases the cause was a fault in the appliance or its electrical supply rather than human behaviour.
The figures also show that despite a substantial reduction in fires in the home over recent years - 13% between 2011 and 2015 - the number of blazes involving white goods has dropped just 5% during the same period.
To reduce the fire risk posed by faulty white goods, the Service is now urging the Government to act on a recommendation to introduce one single, publicly accessible register of recalled products made by consumer champion Lynn Faulds Wood. The recommendation was made as part of her recent review of the product recall system.
Currently consumers rely on a variety of databases, manufacturers' websites and media publicity, making it difficult to find out if any of the electrical appliances they own is a potential death trap.
Fire chiefs believe the current system to alert consumers that a product is being recalled is ineffective with only around 10 - 20% of products ever being returned or repaired. Worse still, faulty products often remain in circulation on the second hand goods market.
London Fire Service's own fire investigation team have discovered potentially lethal electrical appliances being sold in second-hand shops in the capital, even though they are subject to a recall.
Director of Operations Dave Brown said: "While recent years have seen fires in the home steadily falling, fires caused by electrical goods are falling at a much slower rate.
"We strongly believe a single, publicly accessible register of recalled goods would make all the difference. Consumers, landlords and second-hand retailers would be able to quickly identify faulty appliances and find safety and recall information which could ultimately save lives.
"We would like the Government to act on the recommendations made by Lynn Faulds Wood and make it as easy as possible for consumers to check they are not being put at risk by a faulty white goods time bomb."
As well as a single recall database for consumers and manufacturers, the Service is also calling for:
- Staff in second-hand and charity shops to check that the items they are selling are not part of any product recall.
- Private landlords to check regularly the safety of electrical appliances in their properties including whether they are subject to a recall notice.
- Consumers to register their appliance when they buy it and make a note of the make and model of their appliances in case the product is later recalled.
- A requirement to have fireproof marking on white goods making clear the manufacturer, and ideally the model and serial number for identification purposes in the event of a fire.