Individuals and/or departments purchasing refrigerators for laboratory use are expected to follow university procedures that are in accordance with requirements of NFPA 45 (National Fire Protection Association), "Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals.” If flammable solvents need to be refrigerated a flammable-safe (lab-safe) refrigerator must be purchased. In nearly all situations this type of unit is necessary for lab use. These units will be marked to indicate they meet the requirements for flammable/combustible material storage.
Flammable-safe refrigerators are designed to eliminate ignition of flammable vapors inside the storage compartment (by locating the compressor and other circuits that can arc/create a spark on the exterior of the unit). A domestic refrigerator must not be used to store flammables because they contain ignition sources that can set off explosive concentrations of flammable vapor. Vapors from a leaky stopper or a cracked container can build up to explosive concentrations and be ignited by the light switch or thermostat. Domestic refrigerators located in labs must be labeled "Do Not Store Flammables in This Refrigerator."
Cold rooms are also not designed for storage of flammable or volatile materials. They may have exposed ignition sources and are not ventilated to actively remove chemical contaminants. Therefore, undesirable vapors may concentrate if these types of materials are stored in cold rooms.