Plastic-backed fridges may cause fires in homes - here’s what you need to know

By Lloyd Bent
Thursday, 11 July, 2019, 11:21

Plastic-backed fridges are dangerous and should be removed from shops, according to the UK’s leading consumer group.

Which? has called on retailers to stop selling the common type of fridge as new regulations on manufacturing the appliances come into force.

Testing standards have changed

Now Which? has labelled the fridges a fire-risk and is demanding a ban. However, the manufacturers' trade body said it was "misleading to infer they are dangerous".

Previously, the British Standard required fridges to withstand a glow wire test in order to assess their resistance to fire.

However, the new rules stipulate they must be able to withstand a naked flame for 30 seconds.

London Fire Brigade has said that plastic-backed fridge freezers burn more easily and the heat is extreme.

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Heat is extreme

The fact that a fire can start fairly high above the ground due to the height of a standard fridge-freezer also means that it has more potential to draw oxygen quickly.

The source of the fire at Grenfell Tower is believed to have been a plastic-backed fridge freezer.

Although fires caused by fridges are rare, Which? wants plastic-backed appliances to be removed from sale.

"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," said Natalie Hitchins, from Which?.

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

Sian Lewis, acting chief executive of the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances, argued that there is no reason to worry.

She said, "It is disappointing that the public is being unnecessarily alarmed by a routine safety upgrade and there is no reason that the existing stock should not be sold.”