/ Home & Energy

Take fire-risk appliances off the shelves immediately

We want people to be better protected from flammable plastic-backed fridge-freezers. Do you back our call for retailers to take fire-risk appliances off the shelves?

Update 11/07/2019

We’re celebrating a big win for our End Dangerous Products campaign.

Today, a new fridge freezer safety standard enters into force effectively banning the manufacture of flammable plastic-backed models.

We’ve been campaigning for the introduction of a new standard since 2017, along with groups including London Fire Brigade and Electrical Safety First, and our 115,000 campaign supporters.

The standard sees the introduction of new tests that require cold appliance backing material to withstand a naked flame for 30 seconds, and demonstrate that it can sufficiently prevent flames reaching the flammable insulation as a result.

Although fires due to refrigeration faults are rare, under the old standard, some appliances were made with a flammable plastic backing that can accelerate the spread of flames in the event of a fire.

While the new standard effectively bans manufacturers from making flammable plastic-backed models, retailers are expected to be allowed to continue selling their old stock so we’ll be calling for them to remove any remaining flammable plastic-backed fridge freezers from sale immediately.

If you’re thinking of buying a new fridge, freezer or fridge-freezer, remember to check before you buy to make sure you’re not getting a model with flammable plastic backing.

You can use our free tool to check the backing material of hundreds of the most popular fridges, freezers and fridge freezers currently on the market and reviewed by Which?.

The London Fire Brigade Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Charlie Pugsley, told us:

We have long been warning about the stark dangers of plastic backed fridges and freezers as part of our Total Recalls campaign and we support Which? in raising concerns about this issue and producing the online checking tool.

The new standard sends a clear message that these flammable backed fridges and freezers are a risk and is a big step in the right direction, but it’s really important that this isn’t the end of it and that more work is done to make white goods safer.

We’d also like to see recall notices better publicised and greater regulation of second-hand appliances”

Update 18/03/2019

We’ve repeatedly asked manufacturers and retailers to stop making plastic-backed fridge-freezers that can accelerate fires and put people’s lives at risk.

A new safety standard will be coming into force this July, requiring all manufacturers to stop making these potentially unsafe refrigeration models.

Retailers must now put the safety of their customers first. Hundreds of these potentially unsafe fridge-freezers continue to be sold across the UK. They must be removed from shelves immediately, so that people are not left at risk for years to come.

People must have confidence that the appliances they buy are safe. Until then, anyone planning on buying a fridge-freezer should still check they are not unwittingly purchasing an unsafe model.

Original convo 11/02/2019

First of all, it’s important to say that the sale of flammable plastic-backed models that pass the current safety standard is legal and that the backing itself is not the cause of fire.

However, our call comes in response to a growing body of evidence, including from the London Fire Brigade, Electrical Safety First and our own testing indicating that plastic-backing can rapidly accelerate the spread of flames in the event of a fire in your home.

Check your appliance with our tool

It is worth stressing that if you already own a flammable plastic-backed model, the risk of fridge-freezer fires is extremely low.

However, if you’re thinking of buying a new appliance, we’d urge you to make sure you’re getting a metal-backed (or other flame retardant) model. If you’re unsure about how to check, the free-to-use Which? fridge-freezer checker tool can help.

In September 2017, we urged manufacturers to stop using flammable plastic-backing in their fridge-freezers, while in April of last year, we took the unprecedented step of making 250 fridge-freezers Don’t Buys.

In response to this, a number of brands committed to stopping the production of these appliances by January 2019.

Last month, when we followed up with manufacturers, we were encouraged to find that almost all have now stopped producing flammable plastic-backed models while most confirmed to us that they no longer distribute these appliances to retailers either, marking a win for our campaign.

Your turn, retailers

Off the back of this, we looked into whether the UK’s four biggest fridge-freezer retailers (AO.com, John Lewis & Partners, Argos and Currys PC World) are still selling plastic-backed models.

Of the four, only John Lewis told us that they do not currently sell any plastic-backed models, and haven’t done so since April 2018. We’re now calling on AO.com, Argos and Currys to follow suit and remove all flammable plastic-backed models from sale immediately.

A fridge-freezer lottery

When carrying out our research, we found there was huge confusion about whether models were metal or plastic-backed, with a significant proportion mislabelled, making it difficult for people to have confidence they are not purchasing a fire-risk fridge-freezer.

I’d be interested to know if you’ve found similar when buying a new appliance?

That’s why we’re also calling on manufacturers and retailers to provide people with greater clarity by clearly listing model backing type so customers know what they’re buying.

This uncertainty demonstrates the need for reform of the standards system – people should be able to expect more transparency and consistency across the industry.

If you’ve recently bought, or are thinking of buying, a new fridge-freezer, I’d be really keen to hear about your experience. Were you able to find out the backing type of your model? Did you have difficulty locating this information? Let us know in the comments.

Comments

It might be apposite at this juncture to see how the Office for Product Safety and Standards is getting on with making people’s lives safer by promoting the use of safer materials and improving the design of domestic appliances to reduce risks.

I did hear that the OPSS had designed a new compliance mark for products to substitute for the CE mark in the event that the UK exits the EU without a formal withdrawal agreement [otherwise known as “a deal”]. That is, of course, most reassuring.

The Office for product Safety and Standards is now over a year old. It was charged with an important safety task – that of establishing an effective product recall system. I don’t recall seeing any movement of consequence reported on this. Fortunately the necessity for product recalls seems quite rare but, as we saw with Indesit dryers, when a clear problem becomes apparent a proper and effective system is essential to protect consumers. So where is it?

I presume that plastic back fridges are available throughout Europe, (and probably the rest of the world). Have European consumer groups been just as concerned as Which? Seems to me that on products common to us all, getting all consumer groups through the EU to put pressure, when it is deemed appropriate, on the regulators, manufacturers and standards bodies would be more sensible than one association going it alone. But perhaps Which> have?

That’s a good suggestion, Malcolm. It seems highly unlikely that the white goods on sale in the UK are different from those sold in Europe.

To start with it would be useful if the problem with plastic-backed fridges etc is recognised elsewhere in Europe.  It was the London Fire Brigade that first raised awareness of the issue in the UK, some time before Which? published the results of their investigations. Do any of our contributors subscribe to any of the European consumer organisations?

Obviously there is no need to put pressure on those manufacturers that have stopped producing this type of appliance but perhaps those that never did are worthy of commendation. I agree that it pressure should be put on regulators, manufacturers and standards bodies, but would add retailers. It is very easy to stop stocking questionable products. From the introduction we have learned that AO stock 173 affected models whereas John Lewis still stocks three. Let’s hope JL returns them to the appropriate manufacturer.

A regulatory body that does not regulate is not fit for purpose.

rob savill says:
14 February 2019

Is it not the purpose of HSE to oversee some factors like this ? Should they not be calling on all retailers, suppliers etc’, to put a stop on these dangerous items being sold, leased or available ? Perhaps Which need to raise this with some of the tabloids &get a campaign launched to raise awareness of the general public, such that they do not purchase any of these items. If we as the public stop buying them, maybe the retailers will be forced to stop selling them as well ? Nothing like a retailer finding they have something no one wants on their hands ! Lets tell the papers about them & get the public behind this campaign (when it happens), lets get the campaign started NOW !!

DerekP says:
15 February 2019

Rob, with regard to the duties of HSE, I think you are theoretically correct.

However, the basic intent of UK Healthy & Safety Law is that, whilst at work, everyone has a duty to minimise all risks, but only so far as is reasonably practicable.

So this begs the philosophical challenge that, if the public want to buy cheap fridges with plastic backs, and if those fridges comply with all current BS/IEC/ISO safety standards, why shouldn’t retailers sell them?

Currently all compliant fridges can be counted as being *safe*.

But, for that context, the meaning of safe is illustrated by:

If I regularly enter the UK National Lottery, it is safe for me to plan my life on the basis that I’ll never win a major prize.

It is reasonably practical to produce fridges with steel backs. We have done it in the past and although manufacturers are dragging their heels, we are heading towards all fridges having either steel backs on ones that are deemed fire resistant.

One of my concerns is how use of plastic backs and other case parts were approved in the first place.

DerekP says:
15 February 2019

wavechange, I also agree that is is reasonably practicable to produce fridges with steel backs.

Indeed, such products are currently available to those who wish to buy them and that Which? is providing freely accessible weblinks to help guide such purchases.

So, from the competing viewpoints of safety principles versus customer choice, is there any need for compulsion here?

For the sake of argument, if a customer is about to spend £200 on a plastic backed fridge, how might they be persuaded to spend a bit more, to get a steel backed one?

It would be interesting to know how much extra it costs to produce a steel-backed fridge. When Which? first looked at this issue I had a look to see if it was only the cheaper models that had plastic backs, but it’s not that simple.

Cars are tested for safety, but I’m not sure how many people take that into consideration when buying a car. My top priority was finding one with a spare wheel. Although some of us are very well aware of the plastic back issue, few of those I’ve spoken to know about it and I doubt there is any information at the point of sale.

Fridge and freezer design has taken several steps away from safety, in my opinion. Apart from the thermostat and interior light, which are unlikely to start a fire, the other component was the compressor, and that was sealed in a metal case, making it very difficult to start a fire. Most fridges and some freezers are auto-defrost, so there will be a defrost timer and possibly an electric heater. In my fridge, the defrost timer appears to be next to the compressor, but rather than encasing it in metal, there is a plastic cover that could easily have been steel or aluminium instead.

I don’t know for sure but suspect that manufacturers have used plastic backs to achieve higher energy efficiency ratings, and since these are shown at the point of sale they do influence choice.

If I lived in a tower block or flat I’m not sure I would be happy if people downstairs were buying cheaper and less safe appliances. But as I said above, I don’t see evidence that it’s just cheap ones that use plastic.

A zinc coated steel back would probably not cost much more than a plastic one. I doubt cost is a real issue. Fire retardent plastic could be used for the back. As I’ve said elsewhere, many formulations of plastic are available for different jobs and thus a material should not be condemned simply because it has the generic name “plastic”. Standards should (and do, I believe) specify the result required, not the means of achieving that result. Otherwise innovation is suppressed. The tests specified to ensure the required result is achieved should ensure the material used is appropriate.

I have no problem with alternative materials being used provided that they are fit for purpose, but have a look at the 2013 video in my link below. We don’t know which make and model of appliance the plastic was used in but it is clearly highly unsuitable.

Innovation is generally portrayed as positive but that’s certainly not always the case.

DerekP says:
15 February 2019

My guess is that, if it cost less to make fridges with steel backs and steel enclosed compressors, then they’d all be made that way.

It would be interesting to know for sure. Compressors (essentially an electric motor and pump) are always enclosed in steel, at least in household equipment.

It seems a long time since I first saw the London Fire Brigade’s video showing how quickly fire could spread when the plastic back of a fridge-freezer was set on fire. I cannot find the exact date but the video (January 2013) at the top of this page may be the first evidence that there was a problem: https://www.itv.com/news/story/2013-01-04/fridge-most-dangerous-appliance-in-fire-says-brigade/

Six years later, manufacturers can legally manufacture products with plastic backs. While acknowledging that the risk of fire is small, I think it’s disgraceful that action has not been taken sooner.

In the case of fridges, plastic backs (and other casing parts) may have been introduced to provide better insulation and running cost, but who considered it safe to switch from metal to plastic and what tests were carried out before the change was made?

Hi Daniel – Thanks for pointing this out. I have not paid much attention to the construction of older fridge and freezers or when plastic backs came in. It would be interesting to know the reasoning behind use of the glow wire test and not the use of the needle-flame test.

I do wish that Which? would look at the use of plastic parts in the casings of appliances. The photo I posted on the first page of this Convo shows how plastic can burn or melt, allowing flames to spread.

Which? could tell is about the latest IEC standard (IEC 60335-2-24) – I understand it does involve a needle flame test – and the EU’s probable amendments to the EN which should further strengthen safety requirements. I asked about this a long time ago but no mention is made in these Convo intros and campaigns.

Incidentally there are a number of glow wire tests at different temperatures depending on the application. Standard for assessing flammability.

As I have said before there are many different types of plastic with differing performances depending upon the application. Simply condemning “plastic” is misleading. Aeroplanes and cars…… I wish Which? would explain that there are international working groups looking at fire in domestic appliances with a view, no doubt, to revising safety standards.

Information like this should not be suppressed if a balanced discussion is to be carried on.

For more information about product safety in general and to sign the petition demanding a change to the product safety regime, please see our campaign pages and share with anyone you think would be interested.

https://campaigns.which.co.uk/product-safety/

It would be helpful to some if, when Which? introduce this kind of topic, campaign, or whatever they both present the whole case and give the other parties involved the opportunity to give their side of the story. Here, then, the manufacturers, standards organisation for example. It would be informative and reduce some of the speculation.

@ddalton, Daniel – Back to an earlier point I raised. Do Which? collaborate with consumer organisations elsewhere with issues like this one? Did they in this particular case?

The responsibility is with the manufacturers still trying to sell old stock or still producing plastic backing fridges and freezers. So step up and protect us consumers so that we can trust the brand. Also retailers step up and ensure the relevant information is available for your staff to advise customers appropriately. More education and training I do believe.

If I may say so, this is a much more sensible statement from Which?

While every fridge freezer available to buy in the UK meets current safety standards and the risk of a fridge freezer fire remains low, our tests have found that plastic fridge freezer backing can be highly flammable and can accelerate the spread of flames in the event of a fire in your home. Every product that we’ve identified as having flammable plastic backing has been made a Don’t Buy and given a score of 0%, regardless of how well it performed in our chilling and freezing tests. Products with flammable plastic backing will fail to meet new safety standards due to be introduced this year, so why would you opt for one when fridge freezers with flame-retardant backing are readily available at every price point.
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/02/you-dont-need-to-spend-a-fortune-to-get-a-reliable-fridge-freezer/ – Which?

It also finally mentions a revised standard; it would be useful if it gave us details of how it improves safety.

Today’s update seems to try to inflame this topic once again. It has been pointed out before that the additional risk posed by some plastic backed fridges is very very low, including by Which? themselves. It is a sensible move make this amendment to the standard of course, among others.

The revised standard no doubt requires the backing to be fire retardent, which will allow any material that passes the required fire test. Many “plastics” are sufficiently resistant to fire to meet such a test – much of an airliner these days is made of “plastic”. “Plastic” is a generic name for a huge range of materials; the key is to select the right type for the job. However, I’d expect a simple sheet of zinc-coated steel to be as economical solution as any for most purposes unless a degree of shaping is involved.

Their press release also talks of a “ban” after July. Normally a revised standard will have an overlap period with the existing one, so manufacturers can still, at least, dispatch existing stocks. Perhaps Which? will explain if there is an overlap period and for how long.

They must be removed from shelves immediately, so that people are not left at risk for years to come.“. There are millions and millions of fridges made to the existing standard in use in the UK and, no doubt, throughout Europe and the rest of the world, with plastic backs bought over many years. Were it a safety critical issue these would have no doubt been subject to a recall, at least in certain countries. But it is not safety critical, so there is no need to panic.

It would be useful if Which? gave us a precis of the differences between the existing standard and the revised version.

I don’t think Which? deserves to be berated for raising awareness that many fridges and freezers with plastic backs are still on sale, since the London Fire Brigade publicised the problem back in 2102. As those involved in marketing know, you need to shout loudly to get the message across.

Where a safer and practical alternative exists, it makes no sense to carry on production of appliances with plastic backs.

I am not berating Which? for maintaining the subject of fridges and the standard. I am suggesting Which? adopt a more informative and balanced approach and don’t sensationalise something that does not warrant it (in my view). As I have said before, “plastic” of the appropriate type is safe in this situation (as Which? say “if their backing material can’t withstand a naked flame for a set period of time.“).

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/03/new-fire-risk-fridge-freezers-uncovered/ – Which?

It has been an ongoing discussion for 7 years at the very least; if there was such a significant safety risk then you would imagine Which? might have raised a super complaint years ago? Presumably other countries (EU especially) would have had something to say as well.

I support improvements to standards, as I said above, but not raising the anxiety level of consumers when it is not necessary.

As far as I am aware it is an aluminium laminate that has been deemed as suitable for fridge backs, as an alternative to metal. Some manufacturers have acted in a timely fashion and either removed plastic backs from their appliances or not used them in the first place.

I would like to know why manufacturers were allowed to introduce the plastic backs, when a simple flame test would have revealed the problem.

I do wish that Which? would look at the use of plastics in the cases of white goods. Last week I was speaking to a local firefighter who has had to deal with appliance fires and was able to confirm what I have said about plastics burning and melting, allowing a fire in an appliance to spread to the room.

I’m not aware of Which? press releases or articles causing any public panic.

DerekP says:
18 March 2019

I hope I won’t be needing to replace my current so-called-unsafe fridge freezer anytime soon.

Nor me, but mine were bought about four years after the problem was identified and I’m disappointed that the manufacturer did not act more promptly.

What I would like to know is why the use of flammable plastics was allowed. I used a freezer with a galvanised steel back for 34 years. Had the compressor not been worn out I would still be using it.

DerekP says:
18 March 2019

I guess the use of flammable plastics was allowed simply because, until recently, not enough thought was given to the topic of banning them.

I believe the standard required any non-metallic material to be resistant to fire and the spread of flame. I understand it is the severity of the test that has been enhanced in the international standard.

Many materials can be provoked into burning under the right conditions, so understanding the likely circumstances is important in setting down the necessary conformity tests.

As Which? now take part in BSI committee work perhaps they will explain what is changing.

As I have mentioned before, the use of flammable plastics for distribution boards (‘fuse boxes’) has been banned and metal or other fire-resistant materials must be used. All the new ones I have seen have been metal. For many years, they were made of metal. Why was it permitted to move to flammable plastic?

If flammable plastic has been banned for distribution boards, then why allow its use in the cases of household appliances?

It is really quite misleading to suggest that the use of “<flammable plastic” is permitted. As far as I am aware “flammable” plastics are not permitted in domestic appliances.

Many materials burn under the right circumstances, as I said above. The job of a standard is to prescribe the appropriate tests to ensure that under anticipated fault conditions the correct materials are used. The standards (e.g. BS EN 60335-1) require “ parts of non-metallic material to be resistant to ignition and spread of fire“. This is accompanied by specific tests to demonstrate compliance. It may well be that a higher standard of test is appropriate and I believe the standard now introduces that. But that will not, quite rightly, ban any material providing it complies.

Have a look at the many photos I have posted in Conversations, showing how plastics have burned or melted in domestic fires, Malcolm.

I have now discussed this with two firefighters who agree with me. One has separated from his partner and one of the reasons was that she insisted on putting the dishwasher on overnight.

Because fires don’t happen under standard conditions, the standards must be designed to reflect what can happen in real life.

DerekP says:
18 March 2019

I’m really looking forward to my next fridge using nice safe metallic materials like magnesium, sodium or potassium 😉

The last sentence is what standards set out to do.

The “firefighters” are on the BSI Committees- – at least, represented by London Fire Brigade according to the list of committee members. I am sure the relatively few pictures such as yours, out of the 66 000 000 tumble dryers, fridge freezers, dishwashers and washing machines in use in UK homes alone, will be seen by those involved in standards and taken into account. Why would they not be? No doubt all the evidence will be considered by the international working parties, on which BSI has representatives.

Don’t think of using steel wool for the insulation.

As potentially flammable refrigerants are permitted, in theory a hazard if the pipework is damaged or a fire caused the refrigerant to be released, should this be an item to address? But how many accidents have involved such incidents?

I assume that standards committees have seen photos showing that plastic in appliance casings can burn or melt and if the two firefighters that I have spoken to are typical, it’s probably well known by firefighters. I don’t know why fridge backs have been the focus of attention.

You may jest about steel wool but with proper metal casings any fire would be contained, just as burning fabrics in a tumble dryer need not be a problem.

I presume that the use of plastic backs in fridges and elsewhere was largely a cost saving measure, and the white goods industry provides plenty of examples of products being made down to a price.

You wrote: “It is really quite misleading to suggest that the use of “<flammable plastic” is permitted. As far as I am aware “flammable” plastics are not permitted in domestic appliances." If that's the case, why has Which? identified a problem with many fridges and freezers?

I have linked to what the standard(s) say.

My comment about steel wool was not in jest – I can make it burn quite easily. It was to point out the looseness in which the term “flammable” is used. Flammability can take place over a wide range of temperatures. The tests required in standards are (should be) based upon what temperature(s) the materials should be designed to work under; if it is found that higher temperature resistance is more appropriate then the standard can be amended, as is likely to have happened.

The inference with fridges is that a dangerous “flammable plastic” material is allowed to be used. Does the standard currently allow this? If the fridge back is covered by the relevant clause in the standard then the material should be resistant to ignition and the spread of fire under the tests specified. Perhaps Which?, as a member of the committee, could tell us if fridge backs are not covered by clause 30.2.

Which? have told us “If you already own a fridge, freezer or fridge freezer with a flammable plastic back, be assured that refrigerator fires are rare.” so it is not a problem but a sensible improvement.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/03/new-fire-risk-fridge-freezers-uncovered/ – Which?

Phil says:
18 March 2019

I once had a spark from an angle grinder set fire to some steel wool.

As you say, easy.

I disagree, Malcolm. Testing should establish whether or not there is a fire risk in the domestic environment. There is no point in looking at a burned out appliance in a home and saying that it complied with the relevant standards.

I don’t think anyone is proposing steel wool as insulation but if they did the risks should be properly evaluated and compared with existing materials.

As I said earlier, International Standards Organisation’s working groups are examining the issue of fires in domestic appliances. I expect they will be considering the fire risk; I have not said otherwise. Your concerns can be passed to them through BSI or Which? if you think they are not tackling this correctly. You can also ask Which? to explain what they are doing and where they have got to.

Standards are all about evaluating risk.

DerekP says:
18 March 2019

As I attempted to hint above, using metals or plastics is not the key issue here.

What matters is the flammability of any candidate materials.

Precisely.

I agree. In the case of consumer units, steel has replaced plastic in all the new units I have seen but other non-flammable materials are permitted.

I’ve always wondered…if you have a load of steel wool can you knit yourself a kettle?

John Warner says:
18 March 2019

Isobutane is a commonly used refrigerant in domestic (and some commercial) refrigeration appliances and is, under certain circumstances both explosive and inflammable. The amount of refrigerant in a domestic refrigerator is unlikely to cause a problem if it leaks to the surrounding room, unless the room is very small and /or a number of appliances leak their refrigerant charge simultaneously. However, a problem could occur if the refrigerant leaks into the refrigerant interior and achieves a saturation level between 1.8 – 8.44 % by volume to air. A spark from the switching of the thermostat could ignite it and cause an explosion. There have been several instances where householders have reported that their domestic refrigeration appliance has explode”like a bomb”
Most instances of the plastic backs of cabinets catching fire have been caused by electrical faults with the compressor starting relay, capacitor or other electrical item. isolation of these items within a flame retardant enclosure would, in my opinion, largely solve the problem

You are absolutely right, John. The compressor relay, capacitor, etc. could be enclosed in a metal or other flame retardant case, which would contain a fire. The risk of the thermostat igniting refrigerant can be eliminated and spark-proof laboratory fridges have been available for years. They tend to cost in excess of £1k but simply encasing the thermostat in a metal box would add very little to the cost of a domestic fridge.

John Warner says:
19 March 2019

Yes indeed Wavechange. I was in the refrigeration industry for most of my working life and we converted many standard commercial refrigerators for laboratory use by either using a spark proof thermostat or by remotely siting the thermostat body. Internal (evaporator) fan motors, defrost heaters, trim heaters etc. can also present challenges, none of which are insurmountable and the solutions pale into insignificance when compared to the devastation an exploding or burning refrigeration appliance can cause.

I thought you might have specialist knowledge, John. At one time, many fridges and freezers were simple beasts with electrical components other than the thermostat and interior lamp enclosed in metal, but the components you mention have increased the risk, as has use of plastics in cases.

Since fridges and freezers operate 24/7, anything that can improve safety for little additional cost must be the way forward.

What is missing from the article is a warning advising consumers to make sure they have certified smoke detectors in the vicinity of their appliances.

It’s depressing to see how few people have an alarm in their kitchen or utility room. Heat alarms are best for kitchens to avoid nuisance alarms due to cooking, resulting in removal of batteries.

We could, perhaps, do more to protect people from fire in the kitchen than just tinkering. Out of 22 million fridges etc in use in UK there were reported 214 fires in a year – 0.001% – from any cause, fault, abuse, misuse.

There were 41 times as many fires reported that were down to cooking appliances alone.

I’d suggest that it would be very worthwhile installing mist or sprinkler systems in kitchens, particularly in buildings with multi-occupancy, so that whatever the cause of the fire it could be controlled in most cases.

There is a lot that can be done, and I would suggest fire doors for kitchens, especially in new-build homes. That’s still not a reason for the time that it has taken to end sale of the fridges and freezers in question.

Fire doors need to be installed between a garage and a house if it is integral, and for houses of over 2 storeys, including those with loft conversions.

I’m concerned about a fire that spreads to adjoining properties and a mist/sprinkler system would help achieve that. Required in Wales under their building regs.

These are sensible changes but so is making appliances that are able to contain fire if it starts for any reason.

There are currently three International Standards Organisation’s working groups investigating fires in domestic appliances with a view to seeing how standards might be amended. The current work is looking at dishwashers, fridge freezers and tumble dryers.

Which?, as part of BSI committees and no doubt aware of this work, could perhaps keep us informed?

BSI could keep us informed too.

You can ask them. I’ve always had a constructive and informative response. I do not recall the same from Which? on all the occasions I have asked them.

BSI have also responded to Which?. They invited Which? to discuss the results of their smoke alarm tests so the discrepancies could be investigated. Whether Which? took up this offer, and what the outcome was, has not been reported by Which? as far as I know.

Until recently (and I did a lot of prompting) I don’t believe Which? took any active part in BSI Committees. It is there that the UK consumers, and others, can provide information, expertise and concerns to the international standards organisations who are responsible for keeping standards current and introducing new ones. Essential in my view that Which? work with them and, hopefully, transmit the many constructive suggestions and comments that Convos provide. I hope we are all sensible enough to appreciate that those with real expertise, knowledge and experience will consider them but not necessarily accept them if they are not the obvious winners we might like to think.

Harold Armitage says:
18 March 2019

That has been a requirement for years.

Hi Dan – Which? has taken action to alert us to the fact that many fridges and freezers have flammable plastic backs and although the risk is fairly small, safer alternatives are available.

It concerns me that no attention seems to have been paid to the use of plastics that can burn or melt in the cases of white goods. That means that if a fire starts for any reason, it can spread to the room, or worse.

Thanks Dan. I think Which? would be breaking no agreements if it told us what suggestions made in these Convos are being taken to BSI, even though you can go no further.

I think you could also tell us, and it would help Convos, what changes are made to appropriate standards – such as BS EN 60335-2-24 covering cold appliances – that are relevant; change to tests, materials, components and when those changes will become the norm, that affect flammability concerns.

I think it would also be useful if you kept us up to date on relevant work in progress. I have been given, openly, information that there are IEC working groups looking at fire in 3 groups of domestic appliances with a view to amending standards where appropriate. I’ve posted that information in Convos.

If in doubt as to what can be made public, BSI will no doubt advise, but it would be a great help to some of us, and Convos, if relevant standards improvements were made known rather then keep some thinking safety, for example, was not being properly addressed.

Harold Armitage says:
18 March 2019

All this has arisen through the EUSSR and its inferior “CE” standards.
Our previous British Standard refrigerators were made of metal and mineral insulation, totally non-flammable.
All of this was entirely predictable. There’s lots more out there too. Practically every bit of domestic electrical equipment (sockets, switches, consumer units etc. is also dangerous..)

British Standards have been based for many years with international standards and harmonised with EU standards (ENs). CE is a marking and requires products to meet EU regulations; these invariably call up ENs.

Colin says:
18 March 2019

The EU standards, like British Standards, set minimum requirements that must be complied with. There is nothing to stop a manufacturer exceeding these standards – apart from cost. There is also nothing to stop a national government introducing building regulations that exceed the EU requirements, provided this isn’t a barrier to trade. Some years ago I worked on a building in France, and I was shocked at the poor standards required by French wiring regulations compared to British ones at the time. (British wiring regs have advanced significantly since then, and it’s likely that French ones have, too.) Anyone who travelled in much of eastern or southern Europe before those countries joined the EU will remember the downright dangerous wiring and appliances that existed at that time, and will be very grateful for the present-day standards.

Graham Pearson says:
18 March 2019

Safety is an important concern and certain fridge freezers which don’t fall into any of the safe categories should be ditched.

Audrey says:
18 March 2019

This is extremely important. Its a shame the Government don’t have time to do anything before another Grenfell. Please God that doesn’t happen
A.

You would have thought that it would be done atomaticly are we mad

Jim Davidson says:
18 March 2019

I would hope to see my grand kids leave school and possibly get married and have children of thier own,
my wife and I are both 67 years old. I would hope to die just with age not to be burnt to death, so I think the
Shops or who makes fringe and freezers do as there requested to with backs put some kind of backing
that doesn’t burst into fire.

Melanie Chawner says:
18 March 2019

What’s the point when we won’t even be in the EU!

Lisa Young says:
18 March 2019

Last month my Beko fridge freezer spontaneously sparked, moulten plastic came off the rear of the appliance, the fuse perished and the plug melted. I checked the serial and model number out and it was listed as of the recalled dangerous appliances. After being told my appliance was manufactured one month outside the recall date and nothing could be done for me I complained to Teresa Arbuckle, Chief Executive of Beko. The complaint was passed downwards to their Customers Executive. I said from the outset that I did not want a replacement or repair, all I wanted was for Beko to understand the seriousness of the matter and the date of manufacture in my mind is an irrelevance; it was a dangerous product that could have resulted in fatal consequences. Appalling empathy and customer service. Maybe HSE would be interested?

Bonaventure says:
19 March 2019

I too back Which for stopping these machines from being sold.