This section deals with the Statutory Instrument 1988 No.1324 Consumer Protection The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988. This legislation was brought into force to deal with all aspects of the flammability and fire safety of domestic furniture and furnishings. It deals with the components (cover fabric, filling material etc.) constituting a finished item of furniture and identify’s the specific tests required to be undertaken in order to comply with the legislation. The document also defines the levels of labeling required on finished goods.
The discussion presented here is not an authoritive interpretation of the regulations.
It is only intended as a basic guide for reference purposes.
The statutory instrument embraces all domestic upholstered seating furniture (as well as children’s furniture). This includes music stools, foot stools and pouffes, bean bags and floor cushions sold for use in domestic dwellings. For the purposes of this discussion, cover fabric will refer to the permanent cover of upholstered furniture.
The discussion which follows will not address issues regarding filling material for furniture but instead will restrict its scope to cover fabric. Mattresses, bed-bases, pillows and cushions are dealt with separately.
Removable covers which are supplied with the furniture are regarded as permanent covers by the statutory instrument. Replacement covers supplied by the original furniture manufacturer are also deemed to be permanent. However, removable covers supplied by producers other than the furniture manufacturer are classed as loose covers.
Permanent Covers: Fire resistance requirements that are usually needed
Any fabric which is supplied as a permanent cover on furniture must:
Cover fabric which has been treated with a flame retardant chemical must undergo a cleansing procedure described in BS5651:1978:Clause 4 (30 minute water soak) prior to cigarette or match testing. The match test is conducted over “standard foam” as described in the statutory instrument. Most cigarette testing is in practice conducted over standard foam as well (the so called “worst case scenario”) although for the purposes of the statutory instrument it can be carried out over the actual filling composite used in the finished furniture or indeed any legal filling material (the type of filling used will be stated on the certificate issued by the laboratory conducting the test).
This section constitutes the essential fire resistance requirements that apply to furnishings with permanent covers. There are a number of furniture items which must comply in part with the requirements described above or have their own quite separate requirements. These are dealt with in the following sections.
Requirements for Exceptional Items
Unless otherwise stated, items mentioned below should comply with the cigarette test as described for permanent covers.
“Non-visible” cover fabric which has been flame retarded may undergo a modified cigarette and match test in which the cleansing procedure is omitted and the match test is conducted over combustion modified foam. Non-visible cover fabric is defined as
Loose covers should be match resistant when tested over standard foam.
Stretch covers should be match compliant when tested over combustion modified foam.
The regulations do not apply to pillow cases or loose covers for mattresses and bed-bases.
Removable braids and trimmings, lightweight scrims (used over foams & fillings) and springs and not required to comply with the fire resistance requirements.
Cane furniture upholstery (seat & back cushions) supplied with the furniture must meet the requirements described for permanent covers.
These cushions cannot be considered as scatter cushions (which have different requirements).
Garden furniture which is also suitable for indoor use (including conservatories) must comply with the permanent cover requirements.
Products for use as nursery furniture which are upholstered or upholstered items which are designed to hold a baby or small child must comply with the regulations as described for permanent covers. Nursery items include the following
Baby nests are exempt from the match resistance test. They must comply with the cigarette test and meet the requirements described in the statutory instrument for filling materials.
The following section deals with mattresses, cushions and pillows. The discussion applies to all uses of these items be it in nursery environments or other domestic end uses.
Upholstered head-boards must meet the requirements for permanent covers. the back of a head-board is considered a visible fabric.
The furniture regulations do not encompass fire resistance requirements for cover fabric and ticking of bed-bases and mattresses. However, Trading Standards emphasise that there is a duty to supply products that are safe. To this end they draw attention to BS7177 which is the specification for cigarette and match resistance of bed bases and mattresses.
The permanent cover requirements apply to all parts of convertible furniture in which the seating also provides the sleeping surface. To this end, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles fall within the regulations.
The regulations do not apply to the decorative cover of pillows, scatter cushions and seat pads or to covers for these items which are sold separately. The filling material within pillows, scatter cushions and seat pads are included by the regulations.