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BFC warns over upholstery flammability risk

The British Furniture Confederation has warned that some motorised upholstery produced in Europe and marked CE may not comply with the flammability regulations.

The BFC says guidance from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Health & Safety Executive means furniture labeled CE covers all aspects of safety, including fire safety. ‘The upshot of this guidance appears to be that two items of motorised furniture could be offered for sale in the UK side by side and trading standards would not be able to take any action against the supplier, even though the product did not conform to the current flammability regulations,’ said Jonathan Hindle, BFC chairman. ‘It is our understanding that a product that is CE marked in the EU, but outside the UK, can be CE marked as safe given it follows the guidelines within that country.’

The BFC commissioned a test of a lift and rise recliner that complies with the flammability regulations and an identical chair constructed in materials used in furniture construction in the EU in which both were subjected to a fire source equivalent to a burning match for 20 seconds.

The flames on the compliant chair self-extinguished within a few seconds of the source being removed. The non-compliant chair was burnt to a cinder within 10 minutes.

The BFC has submitted a video for the test to Kelly Tolhurst, minister for small business, consumers and corporate responsibility.

‘Our main concern is to protect the public by maintaining high levels of fire safety in the home. We believe that this film does demonstrate the ongoing effectiveness of the flammability regulations in protecting the general public and that they need to be retained,’ said Hindle.

‘However, they are in urgent need of updating to reflect modern materials and manufacturing techniques and to ensure environmental concerns are met and we are urging government to engage in meaningful consultation as soon as possible.’

The video can be seen on the BFC’s website.