‘Stop making fire-risk appliances,’ urges Which?

Consumer champion Which? has called on manufacturers to stop producing fire-risk cooling appliances “immediately”.

Following the London Fire Brigade’s video, which showed the speed at which a fire could spread on cooling appliances with plastic backing, Which? has written to manufacturers urging them to stop using non flame-retardant plastic backing on cooling models, which it said could pose a fire risk in UK homes.

It has also criticised British market standards on cooling appliances as “deficient” and “inadequate”.

Which? has also urged manufacturers to “do the right thing” by taking immediate voluntary action to end production on these appliances.

It also argued that the industry needed to agree to bring in tougher safety standards on fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers that would no longer allow the use of potentially flammable backing material.

In line with these concerns, Which? said it had stopped recommending the purchase of any cooling appliance with non flame-retardant plastic backing and had removed dozens of Best Buys from models across its sites.

It has also highlighted concerns over more than 230 models on its websites to help consumers with their choice when buying.

However, it did note that refrigerator fires were rare and assured people that it wasn’t calling for a full product recall. Which? July 2015 research into government fire data found that only seven per cent of fires caused by faulty appliances involved a fridge, freezer or fridge-freezer.

Which? added that the issue provided further evidence that the UK’s current product safety system was “broken” and could be “putting people’s lives at risk”.

It has also called on the Government to urgently set up a new national body to take responsibility for ensuring manufacturers keep households safe and get dangerous products out of people’s homes quickly.

Alex Neill, managing director of Which? home and product services, said: “People who already have one of these models in their homes shouldn’t be alarmed, but our advice is that no one should purchase one from new. Manufacturers must immediately stop making fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers to a standard that they know is clearly deficient and inadequate, 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.”

  • Main image: A still image from the London Fire Brigade’s video demonstrating the danger of plastic backing on cooling appliances