Landlords should check white goods after Grenfell disaster
Landlords should check the white goods in their properties following the horrific blaze in London’s Grenfell Tower, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) advises.
A Hotpoint FF175BP fridge freezer has been identified as the initial source of the fire that has so far cost 79 lives, according to the Metropolitan Police.
The government has ordered technical experts to establish the cause.
Greg Clark, Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “The safety of consumers is paramount. The device is being subject to immediate and rigorous testing to establish the cause of the fire.
“I have made clear to the company that I will expect them to replace any item without delay if it is established that there is a risk in using them.”
The product, which was manufactured between 2006 and 2009, has not been subject to product recalls and this testing will establish whether any further action is required.
Consumers who believe they may own a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP (white) or FF175BG (graphite) should call Whirlpool Corporation’s freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826.
They said at this stage there is no specific reason for consumers to switch off their fridge freezer pending further investigation.
According to London Fire Brigade millions of faulty appliances could be in PRS homes across the UK.
The RLA advises landlords to check all appliances they provide to tenants to ensure they are not subject to a recall or in need of modification.
There are various recall websites, but registermyappliance.org.uk not only allows users to check their goods, but also allows them to register white goods and appliances, sending alerts of any recall or repairs programme.
Hotpoint said: “We have been made aware that the recent fire at Grenfell Tower in West London may have originated in a Hotpoint branded fridge freezer, manufactured between March 2006 and July 2009, model numbers FF175BP (white) and FF175BG (graphite).
“Please check your model and serial number, usually located on a sticker behind the salad container, or look for the model data label on your appliance.”
The company then advises those who own the fridge freezers to fill in an online form and tells them they can expect further updates from the manufacturer about the action it will take.
They are also told to follow standard safety advice, not overload plugs, ensure sockets are not damaged and check cables and leads are in good condition.
Business Minister Margot James has written to trade associations representing all major household appliance manufacturers outlining the Government’s expectation of action by their members, should a household appliance be found to have played a part in the Grenfell Tower fire.
People with concerns about product safety can also call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506 or the Government helpline on 0300 1231016.
The fire on June 14 destroyed 151 homes in the North Kensington block and in the surrounding area of the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Ninety-five buildings in 32 local authority areas have so failed fire safety tests - prompted after questions were raised about Grenfell Tower's cladding.
Before Grenfell, tower block fires in England were at an at least seven-year low, figures show.
According to newly-released Home Office statistics, there were 714 fires in purpose-built blocks of ten storeys or more in England in the 12 months to April - compared with 1,261 fires in 2009-10.
Of those high-rise fires last year, 56 spread further than the 'room of origin' and three people died, compared with 12 fatalities in 2009-10.
In an open letter released on Tuesday morning, people who live at the Hurstway, Testerton, Barandon and Grenfell Walks on the Lancaster West estate said: "The investigation must leave no stone unturned.
"It must identify each and every individual and organisation who must bear responsibility and accountability for this tragedy and the mishandling of the aftermath.
"There must be swift recommendations to ensure there can be no chance of a repeat of this disaster elsewhere.
It said the bereaved families and survivors needed time to recover and grieve - "not least in view of the paucity of support they have been afforded by the state and its agencies in the immediate aftermath".
Questions were raised about the cladding used on Grenfell in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and a nation-wide operation has taken place to identify and test buildings with similar cladding.
The firm that supplied Grenfell Tower's cladding has ended global sales of the product for use in high-rise blocks.
But it is no "great surprise" samples have failed fire tests, director of the Centre for Window and Cladding Technology David Metcalfe said.
He said it was never "entirely clear" under the regulations whether or not the products used in cladding had to be of limited combustibility.
What a filler material consists of is not defined, he explained, and regulations do not say "specifically the cladding should be of limited combustibility".
"Timber isn't an insulation product, it's not a filler material, so there's nothing stopping you using timber on a high-rise building - but the Government now are saying that all cladding should be of limited combustibility - there is a massive inconsistency there."
The government had a new "strict interpretation" of the rules, he said.
The letter from local residents, part of the Justice4Grenfell campaign, demanded their voices were "heard and fully included" in the inquiry into the blaze.
"We support the survivors and mourn the dead - they are our families, friends and neighbours, many of whom are still missing," it said.
Mrs May ordered a full public inquiry into the fire the day after it happened.
The group said bereaved families and survivors should be given funding for legal representation in that probe.
In a statement the RLA said: "It has not only caused tremendous empathy and grief for the victims but has prompted many of us to pause and reflect on how safe our tenants are.
"Regardless of tenure we all have a responsibility to try and ensure as far as we can that our tenants lives are not put in danger by preventing the devastating effects of fire.
"The RLA Landlord Advice Team has received many calls from members keen to ensure that they are doing all that they can to keep their tenants from preventable harm."