Fire service demands recall of dangerous tumble dryers
Manufacturers of dangerous tumble dryers should recall them immediately, fire services have said.
The Local Government Association warned that people are "playing Russian roulette" by using appliances prone to exploding into flames.
It said firefighters were attending three blazes a day caused by dryers.
Whirlpool, which owns the Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda brands, said: "The safety of our customers is our number one priority."
The company has said that more than five million tumble dryers need to be modified to prevent fluff building up near the heating element and bursting into flame.
It has agreed with Trading Standards that it will repair them when asked by owners, but some people have been told they will have to wait until next year for a visit.
"People using faulty tumble dryers are unwittingly playing Russian roulette and leading manufacturers need to recall affected models as soon as possible to protect their customers," said Jeremy Hilton, chairman of the LGA's fire services management committee.
"These defective products are endangering lives, causing thousands of pounds of damage to homes and making people homeless."
Whirlpool said it had to date resolved half a million cases and was looking into alternative options to speed up the programme.
To help it has increased its team of engineers by more than 45% to about 1,500 since the start of the modification programme.
Government statistics show there were 2,190 tumble dryer fires between 2012 and 2014 - equating to three a day.
Homes have been ruined and in one severe case, an inquest has opened into the deaths of two men who died after a tumble dryer caught fire.
The LGA - which represents 48 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales - wants manufacturers to recall affected tumble dryers.
It has also called for all white goods to have fire-proof markings on them, including the manufacturer, model and serial number, so they can be identified more easily if they are damaged after causing a fire.
"It's been months since some manufacturers issued safety warnings over their tumble dryers but they need to be recalled as these appliances are still causing fires - until they do so, consumers continue to risk falling victim to a devastating and tragic house fire," said Mr Hilton.
Some 5.3 million faulty appliances were manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 and sold in the UK.
Whirlpool said that more than a million were estimated to have been replaced or are no longer used by owners. The remainder require a modification that will see an engineer replace the back panel and rear drum seal.
Affected brands are Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline.
Owners can check if their appliance is affected by visiting the Hotpoint model checker or the Indesit model checker and entering the model number, usually found on the back of the dryer door.
Owners of 17,000 Swan appliances manufactured and sold through Shop Direct have been contacted directly.
Some 41,000 Proline tumble dryers were manufactured and sold by the KESA Group between 2004 and 2005. It is estimated that about 14,500 are potentially still in use and efforts are being made to contact the owners of them and to install modifications.
Owners can still use their dryers, but they should clean the lint filter after every use, and never run the dryers while they are out of the house or asleep.
"People must take simple precautions using tumble dryers," said Mr Hilton of the LGA. "The compartment where fibres from fabric build up should be cleaned out after every load of clothes is dried, to reduce the risk of it igniting, and the vent or any other opening should not be covered.
"People should never leave tumble dryers on overnight or when they go out," he added.
Anyone with concerns about the safety of electrical appliances can report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.