On 14 September 2016, the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BIS)1 published a consultation on updating The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (FFRs)2. The consultation seeks views on proposed changes to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
The FFRs cover the whole of UK and set fire safety requirements for a range of upholstered furniture items intended for use in the home, including (but not limited to) sofas, armchairs, beds, divans, sofa- beds, children’s furniture, pushchairs, prams, cots, mattresses, pillows and cushions. The FFRs have not been substantially revised since they were introduced in 1988 and stakeholders, whilst strongly supportive of the FFRs, have often lobbied for an update.
In order to comply with the FFRs, furniture manufacturers and retailers used significant quantities of Flame Retardant chemicals (FRs) as the most cost-effective solution to make covers fire resistant to the required standard. However, the use of Flame Retardants (FRs) in furniture was found to be harmful to health and environment. Besides, one of the fire resistance tests, the match test, no longer reflects the way furniture is now manufactured. For the past four years, BIS has been working closely with all key stakeholders on a review of the FFRs to update the testing requirements and provide a way to reduce the use of Flame Retardants (FRs).
The proposals in this consultation include 3 areas:
Scope of the regulations In the consultation, BIS intends to clarify the scope of the FFRs, to revise the definition of furniture and test potential exclusions (such as some baby products).
Testing There is a proposal on revising the match test for covers (building on previous proposals). Also it is proposed to have anew match test for components to be used in certain circumstances, and there will be a removal of the cigarette test for most covers.
Traceability and enforcement It is proposed that manufacturers are required to hold a technical file; there is also a proposed approach to revise the permanent label including the introduction of information on the use of Flame Retardants (FRs); the requirement for temporary display labels is proposed to be removed; more time for Trading Standards to bring a prosecution.
The consultation also includes an Impact Assessment3 along with the draft regulations4 that BIS is asking for comments.
The closing date for responses is on 11 November 2016.