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An examination of recent fire statistics shows that in 2007 there were 1425 fires in domestic premises involving tumble dryers and washing machines. This indicates that these appliances are a significant cause of fire. It is difficult to quantify the number of fires in non-domestic locations due to such appliances but there is no reason to believe the numbers are less significant

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The cost and inconvenience of fires caused by tumble dryers,washing machines should not be underestimated. The following case study is not a typical.The fire was caused by a faulty tumble dryer located in a small laundry room next to a kitchen in commercial premises. As the door to the room was closed, the fire was not discovered until it as well established. Although the Fire and Rescue Service extinguished the fire before structural damage was caused to the building, there was fire and water damage to the laundry room, extensive smoke damage throughout the establishment, and the kitchen was out of action for several days. It can only be surmised that the excess on the insurance, loss of income and general disruption resulted in a significant cost to the owner.

The Electric Fire Safety council ‘s article on

Investigation into Laundry Room fires

 and why enhanced protection is needed.

The continuing rise in energy prices is encouraging consumers to use time switches to operate their laundry and similar appliances during the hours when cheaper electricity tariffs are available. Operating these appliances when the occupants of the premises are asleep is likely to introduce delays in fires being discovered and to increase the likely severity of any fire caused by such an appliance. In many electrical installations, such appliances are connected to the supply by means of plugs and socket outlets located behind the appliances. In this situation, in

the event of a fire, switching off the appliance is impossible. For tumble dryers in particular,other typical factor that can increase the likelihood or severity of fire is  Reduced airflow in the dryer, mainly due to build up of lint in filters/traps but also from poor venting arrangements.This can cause overheating by considerably slowing down the drying action .

Control measures that can be put in place in the electrical installation. Whilst it may be unreasonable in many cases to advocate the installation of push-button emergency switches of the type used in industry, it is good practice to provide laundry and similar appliances with a suitable switch that could be used in an emergency, located in a position that would be accessible in the event of a fire. Looking to the future, although the planned introduction of smart meters is likely to encourage consumers to use laundry and similar appliances at times when low cost tariffs are available, Until the provision of automatic disconnection systems becomes the norm, disconnection arrangements based on current practices will generally need to be used to provide for a minimum standard of safety.


The Electrical fire safety predict the installation of the TripActivator type device

 “Until the provision of automatic disconnection systems becomes the norm,”

Full unedited article is available in the Electric Fire Safety council’s magazine SwitchOn issue 22, Autumn 2011 pages 12/13