The appalling Grenfell Tower fire in London was found to have been started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer. So what are Hotpoint and other manufacturers doing?
SAVVY TIP: The Hotpoint fridge freezer model was FF175BP (white). If you are worried about your own Hotpoint fridge freezer, you can find information about how to contact them below.
What manufacturers are saying
We contacted the leading manufacturers of fridge freezers to ask if any of their models have plastic insulation and components that could potentially catch fire and if so, what are they doing about it. We’re still waiting for a response from Candy and Samsung and will update this article when we hear back.
Beko said that all Beko, Blomberg, Flavel, Leisure and Grundig refrigeration products manufactured since 2007 have a flame retardant back panel, designed to prevent the insulation catching fire in the event of a component failure.
All fridges and freezers currently manufactured by Beko have additional protection against external fire attack, through either a flame retardant, sheet metal back or an aluminium foil cover. The company said that both measures go further than the current safety standards, as well as the new draft standard that the London Fire Brigade are campaigning for.
SAVVY TIP: Beko have a safety notice and a list of fridge freezers – and other large appliances – that may be faulty and could cause a potential fire hazard. You can find this on their website.
BSH (owns Bosh, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff)
A spokesperson from BSH said that all refrigeration appliances sold under the Bosch, NEFF, Siemens and Gaggenau brands fully comply with the relevant regulations. The motor capacitors in all of their refrigeration appliances are fully metal encapsulated which means they exceed the European Safety Regulations and Standards. They also say that all their refrigeration appliances are manufactured with flame retardant back panels, either aluminium laminated or metal back. They say they ensure a high level of protection against fire incidents – from inside the appliance as well as against external ignition.
Elecrtolux will only say that all of their products sold in Europe comply with all relevant national and EU Safety and Quality Standards.
Miele said that product safety and fire prevention are extremely important to the company. As a rule, all Miele products are subjected to an exhaustive review for potential health and safety risks to consumers.
As well as complying with all relevant laws and standards, Miele applies its own company standards (some of which carry even stricter product safety demands) in all areas.
Miele uses extremely high-grade components and partners with suppliers who meet its own high standards for quality. Qualifying and auditing suppliers is an essential part of this process, and Miele devotes a significant amount of resources to ensuring that it is handled properly.
Smeg said that in light of recent tragic events, they are currently carrying out an internal review of its fridge and freezer ranges. The company said all Smeg products are tested for quality and safety standards and its range meets/exceeds current standards.
Swan said they go to great lengths to make sure that all of the products manufactured conform to strict specifications. Their Retro Range of fridge freezers fully complies with the latest EU safety standards, many of which were not in force at the time the Hotpoint model in question was last made, some eight years ago. Swan say no appliances they’ve produced have ever caught fire or been subject to a product recall.
Whirlpool own several brands including Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda. They told us the Metropolitan Police said that the origin of the Grenfell tower fire may have been in a Hotpoint fridge freezer. They say they are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and fully cooperating with relevant services. They also say that the back panel of the fridge freezer is made of a type of plastic used in refrigerators throughout the industry and that their products meet all applicable regulatory and safety standards as well as being subject to Whirlpool’s rigorous quality control processes.
SAVVY TIP: If you believe you have a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP (white) – which is the model the police say the Grenfell Tower fire started in – or FF175BG (grey), call their freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826 or visit the safety section of their website.
We asked the Association of British Insurers (ABI) for information on whether fires caused by a fridge freezer would be covered by home insurance and they said that as long as people use their appliance in accordance to manual guidelines, they couldn’t imagine any insurer presenting a problem.
Warnings from the London Fire Brigade
The London Fire Brigade have been lobbying for five years for all new refrigeration and freezing appliances to have a fully fire resistant backing as standard, but the current proposals still allow a large hole at the back of the fridge or freezer which would leave the highly flammable insulation inside exposed. You can read about the campaign in their press release.
A spokesperson from the London Fire Brigade says: “While most fridges and freezers work safely for years, they are potentially the most dangerous appliance in the home if they are involved in a blaze because they contain so many flammable materials. We are calling for a new standard to be introduced which would mean that fridge and freezer compressor compartments and their entire back panels would have to be manufactured using non-combustibles such as metal or other suitable materials designed to prevent the highly flammable insulation foam from becoming involved in a fire.”
They launched a Total Recalls campaign, which is calling on the government and manufacturers to implement a number of changes to make all white good safer.
Regulations for flammable insulation
We spoke to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in Geneva and they said a new Standard was published in April this year. This standard says that fridge freezers should include the highest available level of fire resistance.
SAVVY TIP: The IEC don’t write fire safety regulation, but develop standards, which are then generally adopted at EU and then at UK level.
However, the London Fire Brigade don’t think this new standard goes far enough, and say: “The new standard is an improvement but we still believe it could go further as it still allows for holes in the backing for cables or components. The Brigade believes this hole could be covered in a way that would not leave any insulation exposed and we will continue to push for a further amendment to be made to ensure public safety is not compromised.”
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