Five fires per day caused by white goods in England
Last year, 1,873 fires were caused by domestic electrical white goods such as dishwashers and fridge freezers in England, the equivalent of over five fires per day[ii]. Following confirmation from the Metropolitan Police that a fridge freezer was the initial cause of ignition at Grenfell Tower, Electrical Safety First (ESF) is calling on government to provide free mandatory electrical checks for homes in tower blocks. According to ESF, access to these free checks is essential to ensure that tenants in tower blocks are safe from electrical fires.
ESF has written to the Minister responsible, Margot James MP, calling for a new policy which ensures that:
- Housing assocations and local authorities have a legal responsibility for ensuring free mandatory electrical safey checks to include fixed electrical installations and appliances per property
- Housing associations and local authorities must also keep a register of white goods contained and operating in the blocks regardless of tenure of the property and ensure tenants have registered their products.
The current policy of the UK government states that there is an 'expectation' on landlords to keep electrical installations safe. On this basis, electrics and appliances contained within social rented properties could go unchecked for many years and remain dangerous until action is taken.
ESF has put together initial costs for the operation of this policy, which fall between £48m and £60m every five years.
Martyn Allen, Technical Director at Electrical Safety First commented:
"We have seen the risks that electrical appliances pose in tower blocks such as Lakanal House, Shepherd's Court and of course Grenfell Tower. Tenants have the right to live in a home that has a safe electrical installation and appliances supplied by the landlord.
"We believe that first and foremost, those living in densely populated areas like tower blocks must be protected. As a result we would like to see Government implement mandatory safety checks as a matter of urgency."
Electrical Safety First has launched a new microsite to advise all consumers on white goods safety. Consumers can find expert advice on ways to ensure your white goods are safe, a searchable tool to check if any of your products have been recalled and advice on how to register your appliance. Visit
[i] Home Office Fire Statistics on incidents attended by Fire and Rescue Services. Figures from financial year 2015/16. 'White goods' includes domestic fire data for: washing machines, tumble dryers, spin dryers, electric cookers including oven, dishwashers, fridge/freezers and combined washer/dryers. Only fires caused by faulty appliances and leads and faulty fuel supplies are included. Accessible at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables
[ii] 1,873 fires is the equivalent of 5.13 fires per day
Tips for safer white goods
- Buy from a reputable dealer/manufacturer and never buy second hand white goods.
- Always register your appliance with the manufacturer so you can be notified if there's a problem.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- If you're concerned about an appliance in your home, use Electrical Safety First's online product checker to see if it has been recalled.
Which domestic appliances are most likely to catch fire*?
- 1.19% washing machines (482)
- 2.18% tumble dryers (460)
- 3.15% electric cookers including oven (388)
- 4.9% Dishwashers (238)
- 5.8% Fridges/freezers ( 208)
- 6.5% Extractor fans (136)
- 7.5% Grill/Toasters (135)
- 8.4% Microwaves (109)
- 9.4% Other domestic appliances (92)
- 10.3% Washer dryer combos (66)
*Based on a total of 2,562 domestic appliance fires in 2015/16. Only fires caused by faulty appliances and leads and faulty fuel supplies are included in this list.