We’ve written to fridge-freezer manufacturers urging them to stop using non-flame retardant plastic backing in their appliances. We believe this material could pose a safety risk in people’s homes. Do you back our call?
We’ve reviewed cold-appliance safety and have significant concerns about the safety of some models of fridges, freezers and fridge freezers on the UK market.
Some fridge, freezer and fridge-freezer models use non-flame retardant plastic backing material, which we believe poses a fire-risk. While this material isn’t the cause of the fire itself, there’s a growing body of evidence that indicates the risk of a fire spreading is greater with non-flame retardant plastic-backed models.
People who already have one of these models in their homes shouldn’t be alarmed as refrigerator fires are extremely rare. However, our advice is that no one should purchase a new fridge freezer with a non-flame retardant plastic backing.
To help with the purchasing of a new fridge, freezer or fridge freezer, we’re now highlighting information about the type of backing material type on our website and noting those we have concerns about.
Check the flame-retardant models here:
In light of our concerns, we believe the current British Standard on cold appliances is inadequate. And following our review of cold appliances, we’ve written to manufacturers asking them to do the right thing and voluntarily end the production of these appliances.
We’re also asking them to help us bring in a tougher safety standard on fridges and freezers that will no longer allow potentially flammable backing material to be used.
It’s important that standards evolve to reflect new evidence and companies must act swiftly in the best interests of consumers.
This once again shows that the UK’s product safety regime is simply not fit for purpose and the government can no longer continue to allow it to fail. We want the government to urgently set up a new national body to take responsibility for ensuring manufacturers keep households safe.
Update: 8 December 2017
Two separate samples of non-flame-retardant plastic backing set alight after just ten seconds when we conducted our fire tests.
We also tested refrigeration backings made of metal and aluminium laminate. Not only did they not catch fire after the 30 second test, but they didn’t ignite after being subjected to an open flame for a full five minutes.
Watch our video to see how refrigerator backings can go up in flames in less than 30 seconds:
The current British Standard requires 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. All fridges, freezers and fridge freezers on the UK market currently pass this test.
The more stringent fire tests we used for our video form part of a proposed new refrigeration safety standard that’s currently more than 12 months away from being implemented. We’re calling for immediate action to toughen safety standards on refrigeration products.
Our managing director of Home and Product Services, Alex Neill said:
‘Manufacturers must put consumer safety first and immediately stop making fridges, freezers and fridge freezers to a standard that is clearly deficient and could potentially be putting people’s lives at risk.
‘This once again shows that the UK’s product safety regime is simply not fit-for-purpose and the Government can no longer continue to allow it to fail.’
Do you want manufacturers to stop producing cold appliances with non-flame retardant plastic backing?