Revision of the UK 1988 Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations

The UK 1988 Furniture Fire Safety Regulations set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery. They have shown to be very effective in saving lives and property. In the period of 2002-2007 

  • 54 fewer deaths per year
  • 780 fewer non-fatal casualties per year
  • 1,065 fewer fires each year

 were recorded.

Four years ago, the revision of the 1988 Furniture Fire Safety Regulations testing methods was launched with the objectives of maintaining the UK’s exemplary level of fire safety protection for the public and firefighters. According to the UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), the currently proposed changes to the UK's furniture flammability laws aim at improving safety, make UK furniture greener and bring savings to industry. In particular it is proposed to simplify and rationalize the regulation, to maintain the current fire safety levels, to reduce levels of flame retardant chemicals in furniture by introducing an alternative match test and to save money for industry by excluding most fabrics from the cigarette test with the argument they have never failed this test.

On its website[1], BIS has published on 7 August 2014 two documents setting out the government’s intention to change the specification for the match test and the requirements for the cigarette test (both for covering fabrics) in the regulations. The open consultation will close on 7 October 2014.

For maintaining the existing high fire safety levels of furniture in the UK and Ireland, it is essential that fire safety should not be compromised and that furniture manufacturers should be allowed flexibility to optimize flame retardant use, by applying flame retardants to the materials where they can be most effective (in terms of product safety and cost) and by using fire safety technologies such as interliners.