Fridge safety standards to change

Calls are coming from within the industry to change fire regulations relating to refrigerators. This is not a new call, as the London Fire Brigade has been campaigning for changes to the design and manufacture of domestic refrigerators for years; however, the message has taken on a new intensity in the light of the horrific Grenfell Tower fire earlier this year.


Around 300 fires a year in the UK are caused by domestic refrigerators or freezers. These fires have more tendency to spread than those caused by other appliances, which could be because coolant gases used in refrigerators are flammable.

As they are one of the few devices that run continuously, fridge freezers are uniquely placed to cause fire hazards. If there is a problem with the electrics that causes a spark or flame, the plastic components can quickly burn. The coolant system is often filled with flammable gas; in extreme cases, fridge freezers can even explode.

Although new regulations are coming into place, the London Fire Brigade has likened them to ‘having a fire door with a hole in it’. The new regulations require the doors and sides of the unit to be made of metal; however, the problem lies in the back panel, which can be plastic.

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Whether domestic or commercial, it is important to ensure that units are properly maintained. New units should be bought from a reputable store or commercial catering suppliers such as

The EU

Although the UK is advocating improved safety standards from manufacturers in Europe, this is not always supported by other member states. The current EU legislation is manufacturer led, which may not be enough to ensure the safest possible outcome.

Many people do not realise how dangerous their fridge freezer could be. Although the sale of units is not controlled, their disposal is, which does give you pause for thought. If the substances they contain are such a hazard, why are there not tighter safety controls?

While we wait for the results of the Grenfell inquiry, we should not jump to any conclusions. In the meantime, the best advice is to make sure your domestic and commercial units are kept in good working order. Maintenance and replacement of faulty units is advised if you have any concerns about the device’s operation.