Posted on 07/11/2018 in Furniture & Textiles 2018
Cost benefit analysis of fire barriers in furniture

A study by California State University tries to make a Cost Benefit Analysis of including a cloth fire barrier in domestic upholstered furniture in California. The authors note that taking into account both first ignited item and contribution to flame spread, upholstered furniture can be estimated to cause 610 deaths per year, 1 120 injuries and 615 million US$ property loss. The societal cost of furniture-related fires in California is estimated at 1.7 – 1.9 million US$/year (lives, injuries, property loss). The total cost of implementing the barriers is estimated at around 1 million US$/year (barrier material, additional labour in furniture production, testing and enforcement costs). The study however assumes that a cloth fire barrier reduces on average the risk of ignition by <20%, noting that CPSC estimated a 25-51% risk reduction for flammable cellulose furniture cover fabrics. When divided by this risk reduction factor, the benefit of the fire barrier drops to around 1/3 of the implementing costs. The study also notes that California fire losses from upholstered furniture are “substantially lower” than the US average [pinfa note: probably because of past furniture fire safety regulations in California] and this reduces the benefit of the fire barrier.

“A cost-benefit analysis of consumer protection through upholstered furniture fire barriers”, R. Wassmer & N. Fesler, California State University, 19 Sept. 2018, 40 pages

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