London

Unsafe fridges 'risk lives', warns London Fire Brigade

Burned house in Neasden Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption London Fire Brigade said there is one fridge freezer fire per week

Lives are being put at risk by fires fuelled by fridge freezers insulated with flammable materials, London Fire Brigade (LFB) has said.

It called on manufacturers to fireproof the units as fridge freezer blazes have killed seven people in London since 2010 and injured 71.

There is one fridge freezer fire per week in London, LFB said.

But a manufacturing industry representative said changes to safety standards "take time".

The move follows calls by coroners for safer fridges after Santosh Benjamin-Muthiah's died in a freezer fire in north London.

'Simple change'

LFB deputy commissioner Rita Dexter said fridges and freezers were the "most dangerous" household appliances during fires as they were insulated with highly flammable foam covered by thin plastic.

"This can be a recipe for disaster if a fault occurs or if a fire spreads from somewhere else to the fridge or freezer," she said.

The fact these appliances are always switched on, even as people sleep, means they pose an "even greater risk", said Ms Dexter.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Santosh Benjamin-Muthiah died in November 2010

She added: "Putting a simple non-combustible or fire retardant covering at the back of appliances is a relatively simple change that manufacturers can make.

"We believe it would reduce the number of injuries and potentially deaths caused by fires involving fridges and freezers."

A spokesperson for the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances said fridge-makers tested their products for resilience to fire.

They said: "There is a proposed amendment to the international standard that specifies how to test for flammability for refrigeration products.

"However, changes to international safety standards take time as they require agreement from all the standards bodies."

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