TH US Consumer Product Safety Commission has published results of over 100 full-scale tests on mock-up upholstered chairs, comparing fire development with 5 different fire barrier materials (and no barrier) and different covering textiles.
The test chairs used solid wood frames, non flame-retardent polyurethane foam and covering textiles of light cotton, heavier cotton (denim) or cotton – polyester blend (Jaquard), on top of polyester batting. The fire barrier textiles were based on glass fibre, silicon fibre, halogenated fibres and antimony. 60 of 84 chair fire tests with barrier materials ignited with an open flame (small butane flame) and only one of the five barrier materials (based on glass fibre) significantly prevented ignition (ignition in half the tests with this barrier). The peak heat release was significantly lower with barriers (15 – 50% lower) and time to peak heat release was increased by 10 to 16 minutes. A majority of chairs tested (13/20) showed to transition more rapidly (than chairs with no barrier) from smouldering to open flame with cigarette ignition, and CPSC notes that this is an issue requiring further assessment. CPSC concludes that fire barrier textiles show promise for preventing fires in upholstered furniture, or reducing fire intensity, but that more work is needed to find effective barriers for the wide range of furniture design geometry and different materials and coverings.
US CPSC “Memoranda on Full-Scale Upholstered Furniture Testing, 2014-2015”, total 133 pages, A. Lock, April 2016 https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/FY14_Chair_Study_Memos.pdf