Appliance Fires Raise Questions About UK Regulator

October 21, 2011

A series of fridge fires in London was not the first time Turkish appliance maker Arcelik and its UK regulator have responded more slowly than they might to a hazardous appliance (see ).

In November 2008 a student in Cork, Ireland, died from carbon monoxide poisoning which the coroner said was caused by a gas cooker. The cooker was sold under the New World brand which is owned by appliance maker Glen Dimplex. The cooker had been manufactured by Arcelik.

A joint Arcelik-Glen Dimplex investigation discovered that potentially lethal carbon monoxide fumes could build up if the oven’s grill unit was used with the oven door closed.

In January 2009, Glen Dimplex informed Ireland’s National Consumer Agency and its UK regulator, the Trading Standards unit in Knowsley borough, of these findings. The company and both regulators agreed to issue consumer warnings immediately.

That month Arcelik also informed the regulator for its UK headquarters, Hertfordshire Trading Standards, of the problem. But it took until March for the Hertfordshire regulator to issue a warning about the ovens. By that stage another oven owner had been killed, bringing the total deaths to at least six, according to media reports.

Arcelik said it had taken a “pro-active approach” and that its products had met EU safety standards, but its UK subsidiary declined comment on any settlements related to the case. Glen Dimplex also declined comment, as did Hertfordshire Trading Standards.

The regulator also refused a Freedom of Information Act request for details of its discussions with the company, saying that if such information was released, its relationship “would suffer as they would be less inclined to release sensitive information to us”.

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