Fire chiefs call to plug ‘gaping hole’ in refrigerator safety

The London Fire Brigade is calling for all fridges and freezers to have a fully fire-resistant backing, after identifying a “gaping hole” in new safety proposals.

To support its Total Recall campaign – which aims to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries caused by fires involving white goods, the LFB has released a video on social media showing the speed at which a fire can spread if appliances have such a plastic backing.

It claimed that while the doors and side panels on most fridges and freezers are covered in metal, many still use a flammable plastic backing, which offers very little protection against the foam inside catching alight if a fire starts.

The hole is partly to allow for hoses and wires that power the appliance, but the LFB believes the hole could be covered in a way that would not leave any insulation exposed.

According to the Brigade, on average, there is one fire a day involving white goods in the capital, and since 2011 there have been eight deaths – including one incident in Neasden where six people tragically lost their lives.

With the deadline imminent for UK industry players to submit amendments to the safety proposals to the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC), the LFB claimed that there was a key opportunity for UK manufacturers and other industry bodies to ensure the proposals were “fit for purpose”.

Assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly said: “Partially covering the back of a fridge is like having a fire door with a hole in it that would allow fire, heat and smoke to pass through.

“The UK fridge and freezer industry has a real chance to influence the international body [IEC] that sets the manufacturing standards for refrigeration and freezing appliances worldwide, but there is literally a huge hole in their latest proposals.

“While most fridges and freezers work safely for years, they are potentially the most dangerous appliance in the home if they are involved in a blaze, because they contain so many flammable materials. They are also one of the few electrical items to be always left on when you are sleeping.”