Wales

Grenfell fire: 'Test electrical goods in tower blocks'

Clyne Court, Sketty, Swansea
Image caption Swansea council said cladding from Clyne Court in Sketty failed a safety test but meets regulations

Electrical goods in tower blocks should be tested automatically to help prevent fires, a safety charity has said.

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, Electrical Safety First (ESF) said the Welsh Government should test white goods such as fridge-freezers and washing machines for free.

The Metropolitan Police said the blaze started in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer.

The Welsh Government said its fire safety advisory group would look at what lessons could be learned.

In Wales, registered social landlords own 36 blocks and ESF wants the fire safety advisory group to consider making councils and housing associations have a legal responsibility to carry out free electrical safety checks on appliances and a register of white goods.

The charity said the initial cost would be between £500,000 and £600,000 every five years.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "The group will take an informed approach, making recommendations to ensure tenants in Wales continue to be informed and safe.

"It will be guided in this by the work of the UK government's expert panel."

ESF looked at Stats Wales figures for fires involving white goods including dishwashers, fridge-freezers, spin dryers, tumble dryers, washing machine and washer/dryers.

There were 1,249 fires from 2009 to 2016 involving these appliances.

Image copyright London Metropolitan Police Service/Getty Images
Image caption At least 80 people are believed to be dead after the Grenfell fire on 14 June

Robert Jervis-Gibbons, public affairs manager at ESF, said: "We believe that first and foremost, those living in densely populated areas like tower blocks in Wales must be protected.

"As a result we would like to see the Welsh Government implement safety checks as a matter of urgency."

At a one-day inquiry on Thursday, senior fire officers gave evidence to an assembly committee on fire safety in high rise blocks in Wales.

Stuart Millington of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said visits had been carried out at all 76 properties above six storeys high.

Politicians also heard evidence of some residents living in high rise properties had been attempting their own fire safety tests on building materials.

Iwan Cray from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: "Given the scenario where we are today, 700 flats we've knocked on doors since Grenfell and not everybody has taken up the offer of a home fire safety check in those blocks, which is quite surprising really."

Image copyright AFP/Natalie Oxford

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