white goods fire safety
As you may be aware, the fire that led to such devastation at Grenfell Tower started in a fridge freezer. It’s shocking to realise such a devastating fire originated from a type of appliance that the majority of households and many businesses own. The Grenfell Tower fire is an extreme instance where a fire that should have been contained within the flat where it broke out managed to spread very rapidly due to other factors. But it’s a stark reminder of the fact that white goods cause fires and even though they are not on the scale of Grenfell Tower they can still lead to some tragic outcomes. Even when there are no injuries or fatalities, fires still cause extensive disruption. Only last year another tower block in London had to be evacuated because of a fire that originated in a tumble dryer. As well as the direct costs to the individuals involved, the broader cost to the economy in dealing with these fires is significant too. Figures released last October suggested that fires involving white goods in London alone cost the economy more than £118 million over the last five years.  But given that white goods are an essential part of modern living, it’s vital businesses and individuals know what they can do to minimise the fire risks they could pose. Check whether your white goods have been the subject of a recall A very good starting point is to keep an eye on whether your products have become the subject of a recall. The product recalls system hasn’t been as good as it needs to be but it’s getting better with efforts made to create a single Government-backed product recall database. Manufacturer websites should also carry details of any recalls they’ve made and Electrical Safety First provides an online checker you can use too. Expecting people to remember to regularly check their appliances against these databases is probably quite optimistic however. It’s far better to register your appliances with the manufacturer at the time of purchase (it’s often done as part of the process of registering for the guarantee). You can also register all your appliances, regardless of age, at Register My Appliance. If any issues arise, the manufacturer can contact you directly. What other steps should you take to minimise the fire risk? Getting the recall system as effective as possible, and registering your appliances when you buy them, are essential steps towards reducing risks. But the Grenfell Tower investigation has identified the make and model of the appliance involved was a Hotpoint FF175BP and that model hadn’t been recalled. So what else can you do to make sure the fire risks from all white goods appliances are kept as low as possible?
  • Always buy from a reputable dealer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully both when installing the appliance and when using it.
  • Unless they are designed to run continuously, never leave appliances on while your house or building is unoccupied or when all occupants are asleep.
  • Check plugs and sockets for scorch marks or heat. Listen out for buzzing, crackling or any other unusual sounds. Fuses blowing or circuit-breakers tripping can also be indications of problems. If you spot any of these signs, don't ignore them. Unplug your appliance immediately and get it checked by a qualified person.
  • Fit an adequate number of smoke alarms for your building. Make sure you have enough alarms to cover all areas where a fire could start and remember to test your alarms regularly. If you are using white goods in a commercial premises make sure you have a suitable fire detection system in place along with appropriate fire-fighting and fire-suppression equipment that’s regularly maintained.
  • Make sure you have an evacuation plan in place and that everyone who might need to escape knows what they should do and where they need to go. That should be the case at home as well as in businesses and commercial premises.
  • Check whether fuse boxes contain residual current devices (RCDs) to help protect against electric shocks and reduce the risk of electrical fires. If you don’t have them within fuse boxes, you can plug appliances into sockets via RCD plugs. However, it’s worth considering upgrading your fuse box; businesses and landlords are subject to more stringent electrical regulations but be aware that even domestic properties should have their electrics checked every 10 years and homeowners should carry out any maintenance and/or improvements required.
White goods are a routine part of day to day living and working; recognising the potential dangers posed by faulty appliances and understanding how to reduce those risks is something everyone needs to know. If you could benefit from more detailed advice about how to control the fire risks from using white goods in your business or premises, do get in touch with us. If you own a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP (white) or FF175BG (grey) please call Whirlpool Corporation’s freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826 or visit the Hotpoint website to register your details for further updates.