Upholstered furniture and mattresses can be a major contributor to fires. They are often some of the first products to ignite in a house fire, and they are often the largest fuel source in the room.1Source: National Fire Protection Association. Home Fires That Began With Upholstered Furniture by Marty Ahrens, February 2017. Learn More.,2Source: NFPA Journal. Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment by John Hall, Jr., Marty Ahrens, Ben Evarts. Published on January 1, 2012. Learn More.
Fires that start on upholstered furniture and mattresses frequently spread beyond the room in which the fire originated.3Source: National Fire Protection Association. Home Fires That Began With Upholstered Furniture by Marty Ahrens, February 2017. Learn More.
The addition of flame retardants to the fillings and fibers used in furniture and mattresses can help provide individuals with an extra layer of fire protection and increase critical escape time in case of a fire.
There are a range of safety standards and tests that exist for upholstered furniture.
The standards are technology neutral, allowing furniture manufacturers to determine the best way to meet the designated standards and fire safety tests. Nothing in these standards requires the use of flame retardants.
While there is currently no national or federal fire safety standard for upholstered furniture, several fire safety and product safety organizations, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), are working on developing such a standard.
NFPA recently released a draft national standard (“NFPA 277 Standard Method of Test for Reduced Flammability of Upholstered Furniture Subjected to a Flaming Ignition Source”) for comment.
The CPSC has also been evaluating options for a national standard and recently completed its own internal review. The CPSC review recognized furniture as a critical fire source (that is probably underestimated) and recommends that the CSPC not adopt California TB 117-2013, since it would not be an effective test and would not result in any significant improvements in upholstered furniture fire safety.4Source: CPSC. Staff Briefing Package. Upholstered Furniture Flammability; Staff Activities and Recommendation. September, 2019. Learn More
In terms of state requirements, California has established fire safety standards for both residential and commercial upholstered furniture. Since there is currently no federal/national standard, California’s standards have become a key market driver. California has two standards related to furniture:
For additional information about the use of flame retardants in couches and other upholstered furniture, click here.