A report by SP Sweden looks at options for fire safety in upholstered furniture other than use of flame retardants. The report starts by underlining that upholstered furniture does represent a fire risk because it is composed of large amounts of easily ignited and very combustible materials.
Small scale foam/covering sample tests and furniture mock-up test (three small c. 30x30cm, 7.5 com thick cushions in a corner) were carried out for fire ignition and fire development, using cotton, wool, polyester, PVC, leather and blend fabric covering fabrics, polyester wadding, light or dense glass-fibre or aramid-fibre barrier and polyurethane cushion foam. Results were variable. For most covering materials, time to ignition was increased somewhat when barriers were used (but not for cotton/viscose blend). For most coverings, barriers reduced, peak heat release and total heat release were also reduced with the dense glass-fibre (80 g/m2) and aramid barriers, but often not effectively with the light glass-fibre (25 g/m2). Total smoke production was significantly reduced for nearly all barrier – covering combinations. The report concludes that light barriers may have a positive effect in combination with some textiles only, and that heavy barriers can reduce heat and smoke release in most cases, but that an case-by-case assessment of the barrier – covering fabric combination is always needed, and concludes that further research is needed into both barriers and design aspects to reduce furniture fire risks. This research should assess impacts on quality, comfort, cost and fire safety.
“Fire safe upholstered furniture. Alternative strategies to the use of chemical flame retardants”, K. Storesund, SP Sweden, report A15 20124-2, 2015
“Fire safe upholstered furniture – alternatives to the use of chemical flame retardants”, in SP Brandposten n°54 2016