Unidentifiable appliances causing thousands of household fires a year

Between April 2016 and March 2017 (the latest year for which data is available), there were more than 2,100 household fires where fire services could identify the faulty appliance that caused the fire, but not its brand or model number. As a result, these crucial details were only recorded for a third of the 3,203 household fires caused by faulty appliances in the UK that year.

That’s a significant drop from the previous three years, when fire officers were able to identify the make and model of the appliance in question in almost half of all cases.

The number of household fires caused by faulty appliances remains too high, having hovered at around 3,200 per year – more than eight fires every day – in three of the last four years.

Combined, these laundry appliances cause more than three fires every day and account for nearly four in ten of all fires caused by faulty household appliances.

Faulty appliances must be identified

When manufacturers are made aware of a possible fault with one of their products, they carry out a risk assessment to try and determine the likelihood and potential severity of a fire involving that model. If the level of risk is deemed to be high, the manufacturer should (but has no obligation to) issue a modification programme or a product recall. The more fires there are where the make and model of the faulty appliance is unidentified, however, the less likely that is to happen. For example, if a certain model of washing machine has been deemed to have caused 10 household fires, a risk assessment might consider that to be low risk, relative to the number of units sold. But the actual number of fires caused by that model may well be far higher.