Fire victim hits out after Whirlpool report reveals hundreds of thousands of potentially unsafe tumble dryers

A FIRE victim has hit out at the home appliance manufacturer, Whirlpool, after a report presented to MPs revealed there could still be up to 800,000 defective tumble dryers in peoples’ homes.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 2:05 pm
Jemma Spurr, 36, with two of her children. The family ended up spending several weeks living in a hotel after their home was damaged by a fire caused by a suspected faulty tumble dryer. Picture : Habibur Rahman

Jemma Spurr, 36, from Whiteley, had a narrow escape in October 2018 after her Hotpoint tumble dryer caught fire while she was in the house with three of her children. Hotpoint is owned by Whirlpool.

Jemma said: ‘This is absolutely shocking and a clear indication they are not putting public safety first – until this is sorted I don’t think they should be allowed to trade.’

The mother of four became aware of possible safety issues after watching This Morning. After finding her dryer was one of the models the company was ‘recalling’ she believed hers was safe, having had engineers out to complete the ‘necessary modifications’.

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The remains of the charred tumble dryer.

Jemma added: ‘The engineers at the time said the dryer was safe. I believe they now need to recall all Whirlpool tumble dryers - even the modified ones - I’m living proof they are potentially unsafe.’

With her baby asleep, Jemma had put on her tumble dryer while she completed housework. 

‘I initially thought it was a burning smell coming from the vacuum cleaner but when I came into the kitchen the smell was stronger. When I opened the garage door there was smoke everywhere. I grabbed my baby and children and we ran outside and called the Fire Service. The chief fire officer said we had been very lucky as the fire was close to the gas boiler and he said “another five minutes and the situation could have been much worse”,’ she said.

With more than £20,000 of estimated damage it has taken over a year for Jemma to get an apology and compensation from Whirlpool.

She said: ‘I had to go to parliament to give evidence as part of an investigation. It was only then I got an apology and was awarded £11,100 in compensation.’

The report was part of an investigation carried out by the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee.

Chairwoman, Rachel Reeves MP, said: ‘Whirlpool's response to fixing safety flaws in its tumble dryers has too often owed more to PR management than to taking the practical steps to make its machines safe for customers. The Whirlpool tumble dryer saga has dragged on for far too long, leaving customers, now four years on, still fearing they may have potentially unsafe tumble dryers in their homes.’

While Jemma has now purchased a new tumble dryer, which she keeps in an outhouse, she said she is constantly “nervous and checking appliances” over fears of a repeat incident.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have warned people to be vigilant with their dryers. 

Community Safety station manager, Gina Gray, said: ‘We urge all Hampshire residents not to leave electrical appliances including tumble dryers and washing machines unattended, especially overnight. Risks of fire are reduced when tumble dryer filters are cleaned regularly, not overloaded and not left unattended.’