UK Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) attacks fire safety regulations, flame retardants and Standards Institution. The EAC is a committee of the UK Parliament. Following the public consultation on revision of the UK Furniture Fire Safety Regulations (see pinfa Newsletter n° 152), EAC has published a letter to the Government questioning the approach proposed. EAC suggests that the British Standards Institution (BSI) “could be used by industry to frustrate change and delay reform” and questions the effectiveness of the Regulations to prevent lives and injuries – whereas the Government’s consultation document states that the Regulations are recognised as having reduced fire deaths. EAC also calls to exclude SVHC chemicals (substances of very high concern) from furniture. pinfa input to the public consultation supports exclusion of chemicals which jeopardise health safety, based on risk analysis and existing chemical legislation processes (see pinfa Newsletter n° 154).
The UK’s firefighters (Fire Brigade Union) have taken position saying that the Regulations save “dozens of lives per year”. The firefighters’ organisation says that the UK’s Furniture Fire Safety Regulations prevent 50 – 70 fire deaths per year, stating that the spread of lithium ion batteries (in laptops, mobile phones, e-cigarettes and other devices) and the new fire risks they bring points to a need for more regulation not less. Contrary to the EAC above, the firefighters consider that the proposed use of BSI standards would be too weak and not provide adequate regulatory fire protection. The firefighters underline the problem of dense, toxic smoke released by burning polymers, in particular polyurethane foam (see Peck below). They call for banning of flame retardants which are “hazardous to health” and of flame retardants which contribute to smoke toxicity.
“Home furnishings must be made less toxic: EAC writes to Minister to seek clarity on Government plans to ensure the fire safety of furniture”, UK Environmental Audit Committee, 1 December 2023 https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/62/environmental-audit-committee/news/198750/home-furnishings-must-be-made-less-toxic-eac-writes-to-minister-to-seek-clarity-on-government-plans-to-ensure-the-fire-safety-of-furniture/
“Scrapping furniture safety regulations will cost dozens oflives a year, warns fire union”, UK Fire Brigades Union, 22 December 2023, https://www.fbu.org.uk/news/2023/12/22/scrapping-furniture-safety-regulations-will-cost-dozens-lives-year-warns-fire-union