Flammability Testing

Tables 1 & 2 below contain those British Standards most usually associated with flammability testing requirements for furniture and furnishings used in both the contract and domestic markets. The list indicates the most common application of the standards. The information contained in these tables should only be used as a guide, particularly in the contract market where each project or installation may have specific circumstances which prevail and influence the level of fire safety required. The introduction of the new Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order in April 2006 has shifted focus onto fire prevention and has made identifying fire risk the responsibility of individuals who occupy and/or own buildings (more information on the new Fire Safety Order is available here). It follows from this that some knowledge of those flammability tests relevant to furniture and furnishings may be helpful when undertaking a fire risk assessment.

Contract Environments: Historically, the tests required in contract situations were controlled by the fire officers responsible for the buildings fire safety. Once the new Fire Safety Order has been introduced, building fire certificates will cease to have legal status. A ‘responsible person’ will assess fire risk within each building and document the findings. Whilst Fire Officers will no longer indicate the levels of fire safety required for a building to gain a ‘fire certificate’, they will continue to inspect buildings and will want to see the fire risk assessments. It will be important therefore that during an inspection, evidence should be available that fabrics and furnishings have attained adequate fire retardancy standards. Fire authorities will always help and advise where they can and to this end Guidance Documents will be provided by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. We will post information on these guidance documents once they are available (click here to see the ‘latest news’).

Domestic Environments: This is controlled by legislation. The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988* (amended in 1989† and 1993‡) specify the levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other items containing upholstery. It is the role of the Trading Standards Officers to interpret and enforce this legislation. The legislation is clear regarding the tests to be used. However, sometimes it can be unclear into which product category, defined within the statutory instrument, a particular furnishing product falls. Trading Standards should always be contacted for clarification if in doubt.

* Statutory Instrument 1988 – No. 1324, HMSO

†Statutory Instrument 1989 – No. 2358, HMSO

‡Statutory Instrument 1993 – No. 207, HMSO

 

Table 1. Guide to British Standards methods of test
British Standard
Reference Name
Product Tested
End Use
Type
BS5852:Part1:1979:Source 0 Cigarette test
Upholstered furniture
Domestic
Composite
BS 5852:Part 1:1979:Source 1 Match test
Upholstered furniture
Domestic
Composite
BS 5852:2006:Source 5 Crib 5 test
Upholstered furniture
Contract
Composite
BS EN ISO 15025:2002 Curtain test
Vertically orientated fabrics
Contract
Non-composite
BS 7175:1989 Bedcover test
Bedcovers & pillows
Contract
Composite
BS 476:Part 6:1989
BS476:Part 7:1987
Rate of flame spread for wall coverings
Fabric/material wall covering
Contract
Composite
BS EN 1021-1:1994 Cigarette test specified in BS 7176 Upholstered furniture Contract Composite
BS EN 1021-2:1994 Match test specified in BS 7176 Upholstered furniture Contract Composite
BS 5651:1978:Clause 4 Water soak Upholstery fabric Domestic & Contract Non-composite
Table 2. Guide to British Standards flammability specifications
British Standard
Description
BS 5867:Part 2:2008:Type B
Specification for curtains & drapes. Most commonly required specification for contract curtains. Test method used is BS 5438:1976:Test 2.
BS 5867:Part 2:2008:Type C
Specification for curtains & drapes. Usually required in health care installations. Test method used is BS 5438:1976:Test 2.
BS 7176:1995
Specification for ignition resistance in non-domestic seating by testing composites. Describes four levels of fire hazard and the test methods used to assess compliance with each.