250 fridges labelled ‘don’t buy’ over fire hazard fears

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Almost half of the most popular fridges and freezers available could be a fire risk, according to Which?

The watchdog is calling for plastic-backed fridges to be “urgently” removed from sale and says its research showed they could even speed up the spread of a fire.

Which? warned current safety standards as “inadequate, not fit for purpose and do not come close to replicating the source of a real house fire”.

The consumer group examined more than 500 of the most popular fridges and freezers on the market and found that backing material on 45% of them was made of unsafe plastic which posed a potential fire risk.

All the appliances investigated pass the current British Standard which involves putting a hot wire through a sample of the fridge or freezer backing material and seeing if it catches alight.

Fridges with metal or aluminium laminate backings provided protection for five minutes.
Image: Fridges with metal or aluminium laminate backings provided protection for five minutes. Pic: Which?

Which? applied a more stringent test and found those with plastic backings were not able to prevent a flame reaching flammable insulation used in fridges for more than 30 seconds.

Those with metal or aluminium laminate backings provided protection for five minutes.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith 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.”

Which? is recommending people do not buy plastic-backed models and has labelled 250 appliances as “don’t buys”.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: “The Government’s top priority is to keep people safe.

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“Manufacturers selling white goods in the UK must meet some of the strictest safety laws in the world and we are working with Which? and other parties to see whether standards can be made even more stringent.”

Figures show that refrigeration appliances are responsible for about 8% of domestic fires in the UK.

From – SkyNews

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