In How Safe Is Your Kitchen on ITV tonight, Britain’s senior fire officers warn an “unprecedented” number of faulty electrical goods remain in people’s homes, as manufacturers’ safety alerts fail to trace them.
Peter Dartford, of the Chief Fire Officers Association, says: “The average success rate for recall products is between 10-20%, that means that there are between 80-90% unsuccessful and that is unacceptable.”
Now there’s a new call for action from fire chiefs, backed by the Electrical Safety Council, which says there are “potentially millions” of faulty products in homes.
Turkish-owned kitchen giant Beko alone has 129,361 potentially dangerous appliances still in people’s homes – despite its recalls.
London Fire Brigade warns that fridge freezers from one batch have caused dozens of fires, leading to one death. Some Beko tumble dryers have also caused blazes.
But one of their cookers has killed 10, according to coroners records.
The cooker can be made safe by a simple modification done in the home.But the message never got through to Richard Smith and housemate, Kevin Branton, 32, who died alongside him in Saltash, Cornwall.
The Beko cooker’s manual warned about closing the grill door but it was not prominently displayed in the safety section. The firm did not realise the dangers.
Even if courts decide they have made mistakes, the maximum fine is only £5,000. It is a tiny figure when compared to the turnover of multinational manufacturers. Martyn Allen, who heads the Electrical Safety Council’s technical unit, wants an urgent escalation in fines.
He says: “What we are calling for is a penalty proportionate to the profit they make on that recalled product.
“To me, the penalty should actually hurt, so that they take notice. At the moment there is no incentive to take action.”
Beko is not the only kitchen appliance manufacturer desperately hunting faulty goods.
Bosch sold a batch of dishwashers, sometimes branded as Neff or Siemens, with a fault that can cause blazes. Some Hotpoint dishwashers can also cause house fires.
Thousands of these recalled items remain in people’s homes yet warnings from safety experts suggest austerity cuts at Trading Standards could hamper the way defective products are policed.
Officials have failed to create a single website where all product warnings are gathered.
Manufacturers often take out adverts and send letters but it is clear that customers can miss them... with catastrophic results.
The big kitchen electrical firms say they have done everything possible to put safety first and have achieved far better results than the dismal industry average of just one in 10 traced.
Beko’s marketing boss Teresa Arbuckle says: “We are incredibly sorry for what’s happened, for any incident or accident that’s been linked to a Beko product. We are deeply sorry.
“Our systems, our inspection, is up to EU standards. We’ve sold 22 million appliances in the UK.”
The company visited thousands of homes and made thousands of phone calls, as well as placing national newspaper adverts.