NSW

EXCLUSIVE

Recalled but unrepaired Samsung washing machine sparked fire at Only About Children centre

A "premium" childcare centre that charges up to $180 a day did not respond to or was not aware of a recall on a Samsung washing machine that caught fire and forced the evacuation of 100 staff and children.

Samsung confirmed the recalled top-loader that caught fire on Wednesday at an Only About Children childcare centre on Brook Street in Coogee was not a reworked unit.

Top loader crushed into a cube

Choice crushes a Samsung top-loader, calling on the company to work harder on the recall of the machines after 207 fires or incidents.

This means the top-loader is among the 35 per cent of about 53,300 units in NSW that have not been fixed, replaced or refunded, despite a recall campaign since April 2013.

"Based on details provided to Samsung, we can confirm that the washing machine is not a re-worked unit. We have made contact with the customer to arrange an inspection of the unit," a Samsung spokeswoman said.

One hundred adults and children had to evacuate the Only About Children Coogee campus because of a fire.
One hundred adults and children had to evacuate the Only About Children Coogee campus because of a fire. Photo: Edwina Pickles

A NSW Fair Trading spokeswoman said the department, which is overseeing the national, mandatory recall, had been advised the machine was not re-worked.

Twenty-two adults and 78 children were evacuated from the Only About Children Coogee campus about 3pm on Wednesday because of fire in the laundry room sparked by the faulty Samsung washing machine.

A NSW Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said the blaze was quickly brought under control and the heat and water damage was confined to the laundry area.

Fairfax Media has contacted Only About Children – a network of 37 child care centres run by former investment banker Brendan McAssey – and its public relations agency Exposure PR multiple times for comment.

Only About Children founder Brendan McAssey with his son at the Cremorne campus.
Only About Children founder Brendan McAssey with his son at the Cremorne campus. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Only About Children charges about $140 to $180 per child a day and markets itself as a premium service, running foreign language classes, regular health check-ups and Zumba lessons.

It has forecast a $110 million turnover for 2015-16.

A Samsung washing machine that caught fire after it was repaired at an Avoca Beach home in July 2015.
A Samsung washing machine that caught fire after it was repaired at an Avoca Beach home in July 2015. Photo: Supplied

Samsung has recalled six top-loader models because of a major waterproofing fault that has sparked fires across the country and destroyed homes, including that of Craig and Emma Jordan in Terranora, and Joel and Angela Hudson in August.

NSW fire crews have so far responded to 45 incidents involving Samsung washing machines across the state since the first recall.

Concerns have been raised by consumer advocacy group Choice about the effectiveness of recalls in alerting affected consumers and purging homes of dangerous products.

In August, it crowd-funded a TV commercial it believes Samsung should have made and aired to alert customers to its faulty washing machines.

Concerns have also been raised about the Fair Trading-approved rework, which involves technicians applying a fire-retardant, plastic bag to electrical connectors to prevent a water leakage fault.

The fix was slammed as "deficient" by electrical compliance consultancy QEC Global because it would not fully prevent moisture build-up.

Some consumers have refused the fix and demanded replacements or refunds, as they are entitled to under Australian Consumer Law.

But questions have been raised about the safety of non-recalled machines, with concerned consumer Tarnya Allen saying she is aware of eight incidents caused by non-recalled machines.

A Samsung spokesman said the company was investigating "a small number" of cases involving non-recalled machines.

"These washing machine models are not subject to Samsung's voluntary recall of six top-loader washing machines initiated in 2013. Investigations to date have concluded these units do not pose a risk to customer safety," he said.

The latest Samsung recall progress report, released in late December, shows 69 per cent of the 144,451 recalled machines across the country have been repaired, exchanged or refunded.

Do you know more? ehan@smh.com.au

Samsung urges consumers who may be impacted by the recall to visit www.samsung.com/au/washingmachinerecall or call 1800 239 655.

The following models are impacted:

SW75V9WIP/XSA
SW65V9WIP/XSA
SW70SPWIP/XSA
SW80SPWIP/XSA
WA85GWGIP/XSA
WA85GWWIP/XSA