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  1. ITV Report

Tumble dryer maker's approach to reports of fires was an “obstacle" to saving lives, report finds

Doug McTavish and Bernard Hender died in the fire in 2014.

A coroner has said he is worried that a tumble dryer maker’s approach to reports of fires was an “obstacle" to steps which might save lives.

David Lewis was the assistant coroner for North Wales East and Central after the deaths of Bernard Hender, 19, and Doug McTavish, 39, following a blaze at a flat at Llanrwst in the Conwy Valley.

He has issued an report to prevent future deaths to Whirlpool(UK) Appliances.

At an inquest last September, Mr Lewis decided that “on the balance of probabilities the fire was caused by an electrical fault in a tumble dryer.”

I did not emerge from the hearing confident that Whirlpool’s risk assessment fully identified or appreciated the extent of the risk of fire and its potential consequences. My impression was that at least some of the evidence from those called at the request of Whirlpool was defensive and dismissive in nature.

I am concerned that the company’s reluctance to place due reliance on information coming forward in this way, and instead to prefer to take advice from itself, represents an obstacle to timely learning and a likely inhibitor to progressive steps which might prevent fires and save lives.

– David Lewis, coroner

Mr Lewis has given the company until December 26 to respond to his report and set out details of action taken or proposed and a timetable for action.

The firm has said safety was its “number one priority.”

Fire crews attending the scene in Llanrwst in 2014.

We welcome the coroner’s report requesting action from Whirlpool to prevent future deaths.

The families of Doug and Bernard want to make sure that no other families go through what they have had to and we hope that the coroner’s report will prompt swift and effective action from Whirlpool.

We will continue to call for Whirlpool, and other manufacturers, to take action on potentially dangerous white goods and for an effective recall system to be implemented to prevent the devastating consequences of appliance fires.

– Thomas Jervis, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day who represents the families of Douglas McTavish and Bernard Hender