Businesses have until 7 October 2014 to respond to a BIS consultation regarding proposed changes to the match and cigarette flammability tests under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (FFRs).

The FFRs require that new and second-hand domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery supplied in the UK meet certain levels of fire resistance by passing specified flammability tests.

BIS is seeking views on proposals, to change the match and cigarette tests following concerns over the harmful impact on health and the environment of certain fire retardant chemicals used to ensure compliance, especially brominated fire retardants.

The main proposals are that:

  • the match test will require cover fabrics to be tested not over the current highly-flammable prescribed test foam but instead over the fire-resistant variety found in the finished product
  • the cigarette test not be required for any fabrics that pass the match test
  • the cigarette test is removed for invisible linings
  • the introduction of a visible covers test to regulate certain lining fabrics which are directly behind the visible cover
  • a requirement to test currently unregulated materials within 40mm of the surface of the product via a modified version of the match test

The benefits are said to include a reduction in the use of fire retardant chemicals by up to 50%, significant cost savings for industry and the more environmentally friendly disposal of furniture.

It is proposed that the changes will be implemented in April 2015 with sufficient lead-in time for industry to produce compliant products and sell-off existing stock.

Manufacturers and retailers are encouraged to respond to this consultation and they have the opportunity to do so by the 7 October 2014 to ensure that their views are considered.  A copy of the consultation document can be accessed here.