Bompas & Parr

Fridges Fight Back

A chilling exhibition examining the dangers of refrigeration.
Fridges Fight Back

London, 2016: Fridges are under-recognised as causes of fires that destroy homes and kill people every year.

The issue came under the spotlight in our exhibition, Fridges Fight Back: a Chilling Exhibition, curated by the British Museum of Food, and accompanying booklet which examined the darker side of these white goods.

Across Britain, it’s thought 855 fires were started by fridge-freezers between 2011 and 2014, accounting for 7 per cent of fires caused by electrical products.

The London Fire Brigade collects a huge amount of statistics relating to fried-freezer fires and says fridge fires can burn as hot as 600-degrees Celcius, generating thick black smoke and toxic gases. The cause of most such fires is where the increasingly complex electronics in modern fridges fail and where there is insufficient insulation to prevent an electrical arc igniting fridge insulation and/or coolant – both being highly inflammable.

“A fridge is packed with easily ignitable fuel,” the Brigade’s Head of fire investigation Charlie Pugsley told us. “It’s almost like having a can of petrol in your house."


The booklet (available here), Fridges Fight Back: The White Goods are Restless, contextualised the disturbing facts against the position of fridges at the centre of home life.

The booklet and exhibition featured a number of refrigeration-inspired exhibits, including artistic bacteria bred from the fridges of a range of London-based creative studios, filmed content depicting the technical evolution of fridges and the creation of a community fridge in London Bridge where locals could deposit food and drink to be shared with local charities and food banks.