UK households urged to stop buying fridges and freezers that could cause fires or help them spread

Households are being urged to stop buying freezers and fridges that don’t have flame-retardant backing, in a move to prevent deadly fires like the one that claimed at least 80 lives in a West London tower block in June.

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Following a recent review of cold appliance safety, consumer group Which? on Thursday said that it had written to manufacturers this week urging them to stop making products without these backings.

“We’re calling on manufacturers to do the right thing by taking immediate voluntary action to end production of these appliances,” Which? wrote.

“We’re also asking the industry to accelerate the introduction of tougher safety standards on cold appliances, so that the use of potentially flammable backing material is no longer allowed”.

The group said that it had taken this precautionary stance in order to protect customers after evidence from London Fire Brigade indicated that the risk of fire spreading is greater with non-flame retardant plastic-backed cold appliances. That warning came in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June.

Which? said that, in total, it had stopped recommending almost 240 products.

But the group did say that refrigerator fires are rare. Research it conducted into Government fires data back in July 2015 showed that only 7 per cent of fires caused by faulty appliances were triggered by fridge freezers, fridges or freezers.

It said, however, that while the backing was often not the cause of the fire itself, it does allow an existing fire to spread.

It said that it wouldn’t necessarily recommend that households get rid of a product if it does not have flame-retardant backing, but to buy one with such backing when they replacing old goods.

Overall, Which? is also calling for the implementation of more rigid product safety standards.

“The UK’s current fragmented product safety system is broken and could be putting people’s lives at risk,” it said.

“We are calling 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, before there is further tragedy or loss of life,” it added.

The Independent