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24 February 2017

London Fire Brigade Calls for Higher Safety Standards for Refrigeration Systems

As we continue to fill our homes with more and more electrical appliances and gadgets, that risk of a fire breaking out increases accordingly. As such, it is vitally important that the manufacturers responsible for providing such equipment are taking all possible precautions in order to reduce the risk of damage, injury or death. On the whole this is done quite effectively (unless you work for Samsung, in which case your pocket is liable to explode), but unfortunately defective products do make their way to our shops and into our homes. These issues are typically dealt with quickly, and the faulty products removed from sale, but the London Fire Brigade is now warning that the failure of an entire industry to work to what they consider to be appropriate safety standards could be posing a significant risk to UK households. The industry in question, it may surprise you to hear, is refrigeration.

Img: The Kitchn
It sounds illogical doesn’t it? How can a system specifically designed to remain cold be such a fire risk? Well, according to the LFB, refrigeration and freezing appliances are actually the “most dangerous household appliance[s] when involved in a fire”. This is largely due to the abundance of highly flammable insulation within the fridge/freezer, coupled with the large amounts of plastic used.

In an effort to reduce the number of fires breaking out at homes in the UK capital and across the country, the LFB have been busy lobbying for new legislation to be put into place requiring all new refrigeration and freezing appliances to be fitted with a fully fire-resistant backing as standard. Currently, this backing is often made from plastic; where metal is used, current proposals would still allow for a large hole in the back, exposing the highly flammable insulation to heat and flames, thereby rendering the backing largely useless.

Their most recent push to bring this issue to light comes as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) awaits the submission of final safety proposals from key players in the industry ahead of setting global standards.

Addressing the need for swift improvements in the industry, a statement issued by the LFB reads:

 “The deadline for amendments to those proposals is imminent but we fear unless UK manufacturers and other industry bodies ensure the proposals are fit for purpose, a key opportunity to ensure fridges and freezers are made to a higher safety standard will be lost.”

Dan Daly, assistant commissioner for fire safety at the LFB, released a statement of his own in which he further highlighted the main areas of concern:

“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 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.”

According to the LFB, there is on average one fire per day involving white goods in the capital city. This has resulted in 8 deaths and 120 injuries since 2011. That may not sound like a huge number in the grand scheme of things, but just one needless death is too many. In an effort to reduce this number going forward, they have written to all major players in the UK fridge/freezer industry, urging them to amend their proposals to ensure that they don’t compromise public safety.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.