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Technical Information Article

Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the contract and non-domestic sectors

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In the UK, the fire safety requirements for domestic upholstered furniture are well established. The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988,amended 1989, 1993 and 2010 (FFFSR) control the fire safety of all domestic upholstered furniture supplied in the UK. These Regulations clearly specify the level of ignition resistance required for all upholstery components and the mandatory labelling requirements for the final product. In addition, the FFFSR identify compulsory record keeping obligations for domestic upholstered furniture offered for sale in the UK. Thus the industry has a defined route through which it is able to demonstrate fire safety compliance.

The fire safety of upholstered furniture supplied into the non-domestic market is more complex. It is heavily influenced by the end use of the premises in which the furniture is intended to be used.

The manner in which the fire safety of a premises and its contents are controlled changed in 2005 due to the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO).

The main responsibility for implementation and compliance with the Order rests with a designated Responsible Person who takes full corporate liability. The responsible person is someone who owns the premises or business, or who has control over the premises, business or activity. Generally an employer will have principal responsibility but others may also have an interest, such as in a multi-tenanted building governed by landlord / tenant arrangements. Where there is more than one Responsible Person in any type of premises, reasonable steps must be taken to co-operate and work with each other.

Contract-Flam-GuideThis responsibility is not specific to furniture but arises because the Responsible Person is accountable for the fire safety of the premises and its contents. The contents of the premises, of which furniture is a component, are important contributory factors to overall fire safety. Hence the level of ignition resistance of furniture must be considered. Thus, although non-domestic furniture is not subject to fire safety controls through direct legislation, its fire safety behaviour is regulated, indirectly, by RRFSO. This Guide has been formulated using the independent expertise of FIRA who has been testing and advising on flammability issues for more than thirty years.Requirements for upholstered product used in a domestic environment (private dwelling) are not covered. Such uses, including upholstery, mattresses, divans and bed-bases are covered by the FFFSR.

The guide Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the contract and non-domestic sectors intends to:

  • Clarify the regulations and Standards
  • Provide basic information on risk assessments
  • Explain the fire safety requirements for furniture and furnishings
  • Outline testing requirements
  • Provide clarification on end use requirements

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