A guide to flammability testing and analysis

Why do we have flammability regulations in the UK & EU?

Flammability regulations for the UK and EU were brought in to help save lives and prevent injuries through reducing the number of fires that involve furniture.

Do I need to comply with the UK’s flammability regulations?

The ‘Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations’ apply to all items of domestic upholstered furniture – that is furniture that has on it somewhere a padded area consisting of a cover over a resilient filling. This includes children’s furniture, sofa-beds, futons, bed headboards and garden furniture which could all be used inside a home.

Fillings used in mattresses, divans and bed bases (when upholstered) also fall within scope of the regulations. As do scatter cushions, pillows and covers.

The regulations cover a number of things including:

  • All filling materials must meet specific ignition tests
  • All upholstery must be cigarette resistant
  • Upholstery fabrics must be match flame resistant
  • Furniture must be permanently labelled
  • Furniture must be displayed labelled
  • Furniture suppliers must maintain records for five years

I’m a furniture importer, am I still responsible under the UK’s flammability regulations?

It is the first importer into the UK, whether from in or outside the EU, who is responsible for ensuring that a product complies with the appropriate flammability requirements.

Why is it important to conduct flammability testing and analysis?

The European Union (EU) and other countries have introduced regulations establishing minimum flammability requirements for many types of materials and finished products. Although the specifics of these regulations differ between jurisdictions the intent is the same – to reduce unnecessary deaths and injuries associated with fires. For manufacturers, failure to comply with the requirements can limit business growth by preventing access to new markets or even lead to law enforcement actions by regulatory authorities.

Flammability requirements for domestic furniture

All upholstered furniture for the home (domestic sector) must legally comply with the UK’s Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations’.

Flammability requirements for contract furniture

Flammability standards also exist for contract and office furniture, and although they are not covered by the domestic sector regulations, compliance with the standards is essential and will in the majority of cases be a requirement of tender documents.

Mattresses, divans and bed bases

Mattresses, divans and bed bases as a final item do not fall within the UK Furniture and Furnishings Regulations, but it is recommended that they are tested to comply with the relevant standard, BS7177, to demonstrate the product is safe in accordance with the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.