Frozen out?: ‘Banned’ fridges and freezers could still be on sale
New tests effectively banning fire-risk fridges come into force today, with consumer groups warning of the dangers of the plastic-backed appliances.
The Grenfell Tower fire started in a fridge freezer with flammable plastic backing, and an electrical fire expert stated in a report for the inquiry that plastic casing is combustible and will contribute to the spread of a fire.
Landlords and other consumers are now being warned that, despite the new standard effectively banning these models from being manufactured, the Office for Product Safety and Standards is yet to confirm if any measures are in place to stop existing products from being sold in shops.\
This meaning that retailers are expected to be allowed to keep selling plastic-backed appliances to get rid of existing stock.
When consumer champions Which? tested fridge freezers by setting them alight, a plastic-backed model was engulfed in flames and pumping out toxic black smoke within a minute. In comparison, a metal-backed fridge was able to contain the spread of the fire for far longer.
It is now warning people planning to buy new refrigeration products – including landlords – to avoid any models that have flammable plastic backing by checking before they buy.
People can use Which?’s free tool to check the backing material of hundreds of the most popular fridges, freezers and fridge freezers currently on the market here: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/fridge-freezers/article/fridge-freezer-safety
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said: “If you are looking to buy a new fridge freezer, make sure you are vigilant and don’t buy one with plastic backing. Retailers with any stock that was produced to the old standard should make the safety of their customers the number one priority and take them off sale immediately.”
It has also backed London Fire Brigade’s Total Recalls campaign, asking for a single, publicly accessible register of product recalls and greater regulation of second hand appliances.
Written by Sally Walmsley