08 August 2014

Proposed changes to the way household furniture and furnishings are tested have been published this week by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, which it says have the potential to significantly reduce the use of harmful fire retardant chemicals, whilst maintaining fire safety.

The consultation which was launched on 7th August, details planned changes to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. The regulations set out required standards of fire resistance for domestic goods such as beds and sofas. These products are currently tested through a mixture of match and cigarette experiments.

This consultation is relevant to the fire industry, regulatory bodies, test houses, government departments, Trading Standards, local authorities, fire safety services and consumers.

The proposals include:

Changes to the foam used as a filling in the match test. Future tests would be carried out using combustion-modified foam, rather than the non-fire retardant polyurethane foam used at present

Plans to exclude certain fabrics from the cigarette test, including those which have already passed the match test

A new testing requirement for currently unregulated materials found in furniture that can be highly flammable, such as webbing and card

“The changes will continue to provide the same level of protection to consumers while cutting regulatory burdens, and are expected to lead to significant reductions in the use of fire retardant chemicals which can be damaging for both human health and the environment,” says the DBIS.

Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said: Fire safety testing in the UK offers the highest possible level of protection to consumers and I am determined to maintain these standards. However, by using fewer hazardous chemicals and removing some of the duplication in the testing process, we can better protect human health and the environment while reducing bureaucracy at the same time.”

Toni Eldridge, Legal Compliance Product Safety Specialist, Trading Standards said: It is hoped that the planned changes to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 will assist Trading Standards Services to not only ensure the highest level of protection to consumers, but also to promote a fair trading environment within the UK.

The consultation is open until 7th October

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