stop smokingThe Department for Business Innovation and Skills has announced it is beginning a consultation process over changes to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 in light of recent reports of a rise in the number of products failing to meet the standards.

Following an investigation by the BBC’s Fake Britain programme, the latest edition of FIRE Magazine saw CFOA President Paul Fuller highlight his concerns over the "truly outrageous finding" that eight out of 10 sofas and four out of 10 mattresses do not meet the standards.

Further reading: Foam filled fakes

Now BIS has said they intend to propose changes to the match and cigarette tests of the FFRs. Subject to approval by government Ministers, these proposals will be put out to full public consultation around Spring 2014.

These proposals include:
• New match test for cover fabrics to be undertaken over combustion-modified foam, not non-fire retardant polyurethane foam as with the current test.
• Removal of the need to perform the cigarette test on fabrics which pass the match test, and for invisible linings.

BIS say such changes will provide a possible reduction in flame retardant chemical usage for the match test by 30-50% along with a improvement in the safety and 'greenness' of UK furniture.

However, leading fire sector figures including the Fire Protection Association believe there are several flaws in the current proposals pointing to the lack of evidence that the reductions are feasible.

"In our opinion, substantial FR additive reduction and a test that is easier to pass are synonymous with reduced resistance to ignition, with any real life source greater than 20 sec BS flame, and potentially inferior post-ignition performance," added a spokesman.

There will be a workshop to discuss the proposals to be held at UCLAN on the 17 April. All members of the sector are encouraged to attend and details can be found here: www.uclan.ac.uk/about_us/case_studies/frt_2014.php