Sharp Home Appliances is to introduce non-combustible, metal-backed panelling for all its UK cooling products as standard from January 2018.
The move follows recent calls from the London Fire Brigade for manufacturers to phase out the use of plastic backing on cooling appliances, as they can aid in spreading the breakout of a fire.
Ahead of forthcoming EU safety legislation, Sharp Home Appliances has already almost entirely made the switch to aluminium foil backed panelling. It said this is more flame-retardant than the legal minimum standard material of PP – petroleum-based polypropylene.
Said Sharp Home Appliances product manager, Zoe Thomas: “This design modification is an important update, considerably reducing the risk of fire spreading at the back of the fridge. While standard PP back panelling cannot start fridge-freezer fires, there have been legitimate concerns that it does little to contain them.
“With the introduction of aluminium foil, and now metal back panelling, as standard, we’re continuously addressing the issue, acknowledging the importance of regularly reviewing our designs to make them as strong, robust and safe as possible.”
She added: “From 2019, all fridge/freezers will have to pass a Needle Flame Test, in order to comply with EU legislation. Our existing aluminium foil-backed refrigeration is compliant and capable of extinguishing an applied flame within 30 seconds of sustained contact.
“Our metal-back designs will make the spread of fire even less likely, offering entirely fireproof insulation for the back walls of all our new fridge-freezers.”
Said Andy Warren, UK sales and marketing director of Sharp Home Appliances: “Although we continuously work on product safety for all our categories, in light of the recent media attention on fridge-freezer-related fires, we felt that it was important to highlight what we’re specifically doing for our cooling ranges.
“We’re sharing our plans, not only to support our retailers, but, also, importantly, to assure the public that we are being as pro-active as possible when it comes to the safety of our products.
“This design update will apply to all 2018 cooling ranges, from our frost-free 526 litre four-door refrigeration right the way through to our core range of combi fridge-freezers, as well as our larder and freezer models.”