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Suffolk households urged to check tumble dryers amid fire hazard fears

PUBLISHED: 13:36 12 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:26 13 June 2019

A hotpoint tumble dryer which caused a fire at Mildenhall in Suffolk. Photo: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

A hotpoint tumble dryer which caused a fire at Mildenhall in Suffolk. Photo: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Archant

Unplug your tumble dryers immediately - that is the warning trading standards officers have made to those owning unmodified Whirlpool machines amid fire safety concerns.

Suffolk Trading Standards has even released a picture of one tumble dryer thought to have started a fire in Mildenhall.

Whirlpool is facing an "unprecedented" order to recall the machines over fears that around 500,000 tumble dryers across the UK are potential fire hazards.

Millions of machines under its Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline brands were identified as requiring a fix to make them safe to operate.

Suffolk Trading Standards has backed the decision to recall the faulty products.

A spokesman said: "Since 2015 Suffolk Trading Standards have actively encouraged the residents of Suffolk to check their tumble dryers to ensure they do not have one of the unsafe appliances in their home.

"We support the decision of the Office of Product Safety and Standards to serve the recall on Whirlpool, and will continue to highlight the dangerous machines.

"Consumers who are concerned that they may own one of the affected appliances, can check the dedicated safety notice: https://safety.hotpoint.eu.

"Once the recall notice has been served Suffolk Trading Standards will have more information on the actions the Company will take.

"If you have any concerns about the safety of a product, please contact Suffolk Trading Standards via the National Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 040506."

Whirlpool is urging anyone with an unmodified machine to contact them immediately.

A spokesman said: "Safety is our number one priority and we remain committed to resolving any affected tumble dryers that have not yet been modified.

"The crucial message to anyone who still owns an affected dryer and has not already had it modified by Whirlpool is to contact us immediately on 0800 151 0905.

"In the meantime, anyone with an affected dryer that has not been modified should unplug it and not use it until the modification has been completed."

Whirlpool said it was in ongoing discussions with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) "to agree additional measures we have proposed to reach consumers who have not yet engaged with this safety programme".

However after reviewing the company's actions, Tolhurst told MPs that they have been informed to swerve a recall notice immediately.

"This is unprecedented action," Tolhurst told the Commons.

But the government has been criticised over the time it has taken to serve Whirlpool with a recall notice - after the company was issued a safety warning in 2015.

This was due to a number of its brands, including Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit, having faults which made them a fire risk.

The problems were blamed on causing at least 750 fires over an 11-year period.

Rachel Reeves, chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS), said: "Finally, over a year since we called for a recall of defective machines and 18 months since the BEIS Committee reported on Whirlpool's inadequate response to safety flaws, the government is at last showing some teeth and taking long overdue action on Whirlpool.

"The company's modification of defective machines has proceeded at snail's pace, leaving up to half-a-million unmodified and potentially unsafe tumble driers still in people's homes."

Reeves called on the government to explain what had prompted it to pursue the recall, as well as a "full explanation" from Whirlpool.

Which? said the recall move was a "hugely significant step", but suggested the notice should include modified machines as well.

A review by the OPSS found a low risk of harm or injury from modified machines and recommended consumers could continue using them.

However, any customers with unmodified machines should contact Whirlpool as soon as possible.

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