Consumer group warns that flammable fridges could still be on sale

Despite safety fears, a consumer group in the UK has warned that thousands of fridges that are currently on sale could be flammable. Which? claim that, even though new tests have come into force, there hasn’t been any confirmation that retailers will stop selling existing at-risk products.

Previous testing of fridges involved using a hot wire to test the backing material of the fridge or freezer to see if it caught alight. The Office for Product Safety and Standards said that if the plastic melted rather than setting fire, the appliance was safe for use.

However, new, stricter standards have now been implemented, which means that, for a fridge or freezer to be considered safe, it must be able to withstand a naked flame for at thirty seconds. It must also be able to stop the flames from making contact with the flammable insulation.

According to Which, the OPSS hasn’t confirmed whether or not retailers will need to stop selling their existing stock that doesn’t meet the new criteria.

Which?, the London Fire Brigade, and Electrical Safety First have been calling for tougher standards in testing for several years. In 2017, Which? found in tests that plastic backing in fridges can be flammable, which can speed up the spread of flames in the event of a fire.

In its report, it used a plastic-backed model as an example. They tested it and showed the difference between this and a metal-backed model to compare. The metal-backed product took around ten minutes longer to become engulfed in flames.

The group is now campaigning for all remaining older models to be removed from sale and is warning for consumers to be vigilant and always check the specifications before they make a purchase.

Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services, said: “These fire-risk products have been banned in the US for years, so new standards that will ensure they can no longer be manufactured for sale in the UK are long overdue.”

“But it is deeply concerning that retailers may continue to sell these potentially dangerous models for many months to get rid of existing stock.”

“If you are looking to buy a new fridge freezer, make sure you are vigilant and don’t buy one with plastic backing. Retailers with any stock that was produced to the old standard should make the safety of their customers the number one priority and take them off sale immediately.”

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