Grenfell fridge model ‘declared low risk’

Grenfell fridge model ‘declared low risk’

THE HOTPOINT fridge freezer model linked to the fire last June was investigated, and this found ‘there is no need for a national recall’.

The Guardian reported on the investigation of the Hotpoint FF175B, which was ordered by Business Secretary Greg Clark after being ‘identified by the Metropolitan police as being involved’ in the Grenfell Tower fire. Independent experts tested the remains of the appliance from the building’s fourth floor alongside other appliances of the same model, of which ‘tens of thousands’ were made between 2006 and 2009.

At that point, consumers using the devices were advised to contact Whirlpool, which owns Hotpoint, but earlier this week the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced that its review had found that the product ‘met legal safety requirements and that the risk associated with the model is assessed as low’. It also concluded that there was no need for a national recall and that users can continue to use the model ‘as normal’ without any modification.

A secondary investigation by Whirlpool’s own product safety experts also found no evidence of a fault with either that model or the sister model FF175BG. A Whirlpool spokesman said: ‘We wish to reassure consumers that these models are safe and that people may continue to use them as normal. We have fully cooperated with BEIS as it undertook its investigations, and it has now confirmed that there are no concerns with these models.”

Consumer group Which? urged Whirlpool however to clarify whether the model had a flammable plastic backing, with chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith commenting: ‘Our tests show that plastic-backed fridges are a potential fire risk and should be withdrawn from sale.’

Previously this week, the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee told the government that Whirlpool ‘should be made to’ recall fire risk tumble dryers. Last year, Whirlpool faced criticism for failing to recall the up to one million dryers posing fire risks, and its appliances caused ‘three times more’ London fires than any other manufacturer, according to London Fire Brigade (LFB).

Also last year a Welsh coroner said the company’s ‘reluctance to digest inquest lessons’ was an ‘obstacle to preventing further deaths’, after two men died in a flat fire in Llanrwst, North Wales in October 2014, while the MP’s committee was also scathing of the revelation that one million faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers are still being used in the UK.

The committee had been angered by Whirlpool’s decision to close its replacement scheme for the two types of dryers, launched in 2015. They wrote to Whirlpool asking why it had ‘chosen to end the scheme’, and urged it to repair machines ‘within two weeks of being contacted’, or explain action it plans to take, calling its previous response ‘inadequate’. Since 2004, over 750 domestic fires ‘are thought to have been started’ by affected dryers under the Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit, ProLine and Swan brands, with ‘fluff in contact with the heating element’ catching fire.