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Hundreds of fridges and freezers are a fire risk – find out if yours is a danger

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
Apr 5, 2018

Hundreds of fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers currently on sale in shops across the UK are a potential fire risk.

Consumers have been warned against buying 250 appliance models, which have unsafe plastic backing that could ignite, according to an investigation by Which?

The investigation looked at more than 500 of the most popular refrigeration appliances on the market and found that nearly half (45%) were made of unsafe plastic.


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Several of the models had been backed by manufacturers as “flame-retardant”.

However Which? is warning that all plastic backing material could be a fire risk in people’s homes due to the potential to accelerate the spread of flames in the event of a fire starting.

Fridges and freezers are another fire-risk household appliance, following the revelation that millions of Whirlpool dryers are a fire risk.

The defective dryers have been linked with 750 fires since 2004 when they were first manufactured.  

Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, said: “People will rightly be outraged to learn that manufacturers and retailers are selling potentially unsafe products that could be putting their lives at risk.

“If manufacturers and retailers fail to act and leave plastic backed fridges, freezers or fridge-freezers on sale the Office for Product Safety and Standards must step in and take action.”

Find out if your fridge is a fire risk.


How risky are they?

All plastic-backed fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers on the market pass existing safety standards.

However, Which? has warned that these safety tests are inadequate and do not come close to replicating a real house fire.

Current standards require refrigeration appliances to pass a 'glow wire test' to assess their fire resistance. This involves putting a hot wire through a sample of the fridge or freezer backing material and seeing if it catches alight.

Which? conducted more stringent fire tests and found that no plastic backing sample was able to withstand a flame for thirty seconds.

This suggested that, in the event of a fire, it would not sufficiently prevent the flame from reaching the flammable insulation in all refrigeration appliances.

Safety standards are set to be toughened - however these changes won’t be implemented until 2019, allowing many more potentially fire-risk products on to the market in that time.

A number of manufacturers have committed to replacing plastic backing following this investigation .

Fires due to refrigeration faults are rare. UK fire statistics showed that only 8% of fires caused by faulty appliances were caused by fridge-freezers, fridges or freezers.


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