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LFB sends fridge concerns to fire inquiry

UK: The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has repeated calls for improved refrigerator manufacturing standards following the Grenfell Tower fire.

The LFB’s wide-ranging submission to Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review of the fire includes a repeat of its concerns over the safety of domestic refrigerators.

Seventy-one people died at the Grenfell Tower flats in London in June. The fire started in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer.

In its submission to the inquiry the LFB stresses the importance of paying attention to fuel loading (the total amount of combustible material in a defined space) in homes and the affect this can have on the structure and its fire safety measures.

Domestic refrigeration is of particular concern to LFB, as fridges normally operate around the clock, and many fridges have combustible plastic backs which in turn cover combustible polyurethane foam.

The LFB’s own fire tests at the BRE are said to have shown that flame spread on a plastic back panel could be as fast as 1cm/sec and produce heat at a rate of some 320kW. Flame spread is seen to increase as the fire develops to involve the flammable polyurethane foam. In addition, the burning insulation material creates dangerous gases.

In earlier calls to improve safety, the LFB argues that there is no legal requirement or industry standard that the insulation material is isolated from or protected from ignition by a failure in the compressor, capacitor or other ancillary components. The LFB insists that polyurethane insulation should always be properly protected from becoming involved in a fire.

LFB wants to see a new standard which would mean that fridge and freezer compressor compartments and the entire back panel of a fridge or freezer have to have a suitable level of flame retardancy.

Related stories:

Fridge freezer caused Grenfell fire – 23 June 2017
UK: The UK government has ordered an immediate examination of the fridge freezer confirmed today as the source of the Grenfell Tower fire in London earlier this month. Read more…

Fridge safety standards “inadequate” – 21 September 2017
UK: Consumer group Which? has called for an end to fridges using non-flame retardant plastic backs and describes current safety standards as “inadequate”. Read more…

LFB demands action on fridge standards – 21 August 2017
UK: The London Fire Brigade has demanded action on manufacturing standards for fridges and freezers following the Grenfell Tower fire in June. Read more…

Study pinpoints fridge fire hazards – 5 March 2017
UK: A number of components and flammable materials used in domestic refrigerators are identified in a new study into the reported 300 fridge fires a year in Great Britain. Read more…

LFB calls for end to “dangerous” fridges – 24 February 2017
UK: The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has warned that new safety proposals designed to reduce the risk of potentially deadly fridge and freezer fires, have a “gaping hole” in them. Read more…

Fridge freezer delay puts lives at risk – LFB – 3 March 2015
UK: The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has accused fridge freezer manufacturers of dragging their heels on making fire safety improvements. Read more…

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