Workplace Fire SafetyLegal

3 minute read

Furniture and furnishings fire safety

All homes and business premises contain at least some kind of furniture and furnishings, and while you may have noticed fire safety warnings on the tags, you’ve probably not given much thought to the topic. It turns out that there is a lot of effort which goes into ensuring these items are safe – especially those which use upholstery.

Manufacturers and suppliers of furnishings and furniture must adhere to fire safety regulations in the UK. In this post, we’ll be taking you through the key areas of what is involved in making sure the everyday pieces of furniture in our homes and offices are suitably manufactured and labelled.

Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations were introduced in 1988 and have been updated as recently as 2010. This law is to ensure that materials meet ignition resistance standards, and includes the following six main areas:

  • Materials used to fill furniture must meet ignition requirements
  • Composites of upholstery have to be resistant to cigarettes
  • All covers must be resistant to matches
  • There must be a permanent label on all new furniture (excludes mattresses and bed-bases)
  • Display labels must be attached to every new furniture item where it is to be sold
  • A five-year record must be maintained as evidence of compliance by the first supplier when it comes to domestic furniture

Responsibilities

There are a number of responsibilities for the manufacturers, retailers and importers of furniture and furnishings. The following are three key areas of these responsibilities:

Testing – The testing of materials – including items which are foam, non-foam, composite fillings, upholstery composites, covers and fire-barriers – should be performed in accordance to the different areas of the regulations which apply. Only when you’re happy that these materials can furniture containing these items be supplied.

Testing initially is correct, but you’ll also be required to have test certificates which aren’t over a year old and preferably no older than 6 months. This is because enforcement officers will be seeking proper, up-to-date test certificates, therefore the initial test certificate may not be enough.

Labelling
Labels are required for furniture at the point of sale, with some exceptions, and is usually attached so that the information is visible for anyone viewing the product. Take a look at the table below to see typical label examples:

Image of label Description of label What the label means
This label has a green border, with a picture of a lit cigarette and a burning match beneath, both inside a square. The word “resistant” features in capitals below. For new furniture, this label indicates that the item is resistant to cigarettes and matches.
A red triangle, this label has black exclamation mark inside a white triangle with the words “cover fabric not match resistant” in capitals underneath. This labels indicates that the fabric is not resistant to matches but the interliner has passed specified tests – it also means it meets filling requirements and is cigarette resistant.
A red triangle with a white triangle which contains the text “All filling materials meet the 1988 safety regulations”. Below this is the word “caution” in capital letters. This label indicates new furniture meeting the filling requirements and cigarette resistance.

Record Keeping
It is important for all manufacturers, importers and retailers to be able to provide evidence of compliance with the fire safety regulations when it comes to applicable upholstery and furnishings. This evidence includes keeping records of:

  • Supplier statements
  • Test results of the furniture or components
  • Correlation of results to the furniture
  • Correlation of records to labels, batch numbers or marks

This information should be kept for five years from the date that the furniture is supplied to any retailer by the manufacturer and importer.
For retailers, there are a number of things to ensure the manufacturer or importer has provided in addition to the short label, including:

  • Name and postal address for the first supplier in the UK
  • Date of when the item was manufactured or imported
  • Description of the filling materials
  • Description of the covering materials

The retailer should then retain this information for five years, while a ‘Certificate of Compliance to the Furniture and Furnishing (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988) is also recommended from the manufacturer or importer.

If you are unsure about any of the fire safety regulations which apply to your business – no matter which industry you’re in – then contact the professional team at Elite Fire. We can provide thorough fire risk assessments and any fire safety equipment you might require.