Consumer Product Safety

NITE Alert_62

December 15, 2004

Safety Alert - Fire accidents caused by imported gas dryer

NITE, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Tokyo Fire Department (TFD) and the Japan Gas Appliances Inspection Association (JIA), has been working on an investigation into causes and discussing countermeasures in relation to 6 fire cases related to imported gas laundry driers all manufactured by the same company. The information was provided to METI by TFD on October 12, 2004,and subsequently passed to NITE, at which time investigations immediately commenced. Demonstration testing conducted recently at JIA practically revealed the accident cause. In order to prevent any recurrence, this alert has been issued to provide the details of the accidents and draw consumers' attention to this matter.

1.Object models

  1. (1)The U.S. White-Westinghouse (HW) gas laundry dryer imported and distributed by K.K. Tsunashima Shoji (model numbers are indicated on identification plates located behind the drier door at the edge of the opening):
  2. (2)The U.S. General Electric (GE) gas laundry dryer imported by Japan General Appliance Co., Ltd. (model numbers are indicated on identification plates located behind the drier door at the edge of the opening):

The mechanism of ignition was confirmed to be almost the same in all cases because it was found that all models relevant to above (1) and (2) were OEM (original equipmentmanufacturer) products supplied to HW and GE from the same overseas manufacturer.

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2.Condition of accident causing product

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3.Cause of accident

The cause was presumed as follows: The dryers may structurally allow cotton dust (lint) from clothes to enter the hot air ventilation cover located behind the drums. This dust, which accumulated inside the cover, caught fire from the combustion burner flame, dropped to the bottom and spread the fire to lint and dust accumulated at the base of the dryer. The fire further extended to the motor blower housing and caused a blaze. (This phenomenon was confirmed by the demonstration testing)
The Fire Department's investigation confirmed that in all accident cases, lint and dust clogged the exhaust passage within one to two years, so that the exhaust passage was virtually blocked by the time of the accidents. This indicates that, in addition to the structural problem mentioned above, clogging of the exhaust passage has a significant bearing on the accidents.

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4.Action taken by importers/distributors

In response to the above investigation into the cause, importers/ distributors (Tsunashima Shoji K.K. and Japan General Appliance Co., Ltd.) are currently considering drastic measures on instrumental structure in conjunction with the Japan Gas Appliances Inspection Association. In the meantime, to remove the risk of fire, they offer a free fire protection inspection service to identified product users. At the same time, a company announcement was placed in newspapers, etc, calling for the attention of as yet unidentified users to discourage them from using the products. Details of the free inspection services are as follows:

  1. (1)Confirming installation conditions of gas laundry dryers
  2. (2)Disassembling the machines to clean the internal parts (hot air ventilation cover and bottom portion of the machine)
  3. (3)Inspecting vent caps and ventilation ducts attached to the exterior exhaust section.
  4. (4)Clipping on a lint filter (lint trap) to cover the gap at the back of the dryer to keep the dust accumulation on the bottom of the machine to a minimum after cleaning.

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5.Safety precautions

Please note the following in order to prevent recurrence of similar incidents

  1. (1)Refrain from using the product until the free inspection service has been provided. (Contact importers/distributors at the numbers indicated below if you have not heard from them.)
  2. (2)Maintain strict care in the use of the products until drastic measures are implemented on the machine structure, even after receiving the inspection service.

Fore more information;
National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE)
Product Safety Technology Center, Product Safety Investigation Division

Contact us

 Risk Analysis and Public Relations Division  Product Safety Technology Center  National Institute of Technology and Evaluation
Phone number:+81-6-6612-2066
Fax number:+81-6-6612-1617
Address:1-22-16, Nankokita, Suminoe-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 559-0034 Japan MAP