It is quite ironic that the fridge freezer, an appliance that is made to keep things cold, is currently being classed as a fire risk. There is no particular make or model being attributed any more blame than another. Neither is the risk of fire heightened by the electrical components inside a fridge freezer. Rather, the problem is said to lie in the type of materials used for insulation purposes.
The Danger of Fridge Freezer Fires
As reported by both the BBC and ITV, there have been a number of instances recently of fires caused by fridge freezers. The London Fire Brigade has pointed to figures which reveal that there is one fridge freezer fire in England’s capital city every week. These blazes have injured 71 people and, even more worryingly, seven people have died since 2010 as a result of a fridge freezer blaze. The national figures are just as serious, with fridge freezers being at fault for over 300 fires across the country every year.
It is the materials used in the insulation of domestic and commercial fridge freezers which is causing the problem. Although fridges are mostly made from metal, it is the thin plastic backing which is the dangerous element. The very thin plastic acts as the cover for the foam insulation, which is highly flammable. So flammable is this material, the London Fire Brigade now rates fridge freezers as one of the most dangerous household appliances. The fact that they need to be constantly switched on raises the risk of fire even further. The flammable nature of the insulation material means that it does not necessarily have to be a fault with the appliance itself which causes a fire to break out. If a blaze starts elsewhere in the vicinity, it does not take much for an insulated fridge freezer to catch alight. The danger from fridge freezer fires is amplified by the fact that highly toxic gases are also released into the air.
Positive Steps to Make Appliances Safer
The London Fire Brigade and other fire protection authorities are now asking manufacturers to take steps in ensuring that fridge freezers are made safer. They are asking for the appliances, available from dealers such as Fridge Freezer Direct, to be fitted with a non-combustible or fire retardant covering on the rear. This is a relatively simple change in a physical sense but may take a little longer to implement fully.
The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances state that all makers of fridge freezers test the products they produce for levels of resilience to fire. There are currently a number of proposed amendments to the required international standard for flammability testing on refrigeration products. However, any changes have to be agreed by all international standard agencies, a process which can unfortunately take time. It is hoped that once these changes have been made, the instances of fridge freezer fires will be drastically reduced.