Fire Safety

Position Statement on Residential Furniture and Mattress Flammability


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Contact: Bob Luedeka
(865) 657-9840

Polyurethane Foam Association Supports Research And Educational Work To Address Home Furnishings Flammability Issues

Knoxville, TN (March 8, 2007) - Members of the Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) strongly support efforts to help reduce the incidence of household fires involving home furnishings.

To achieve that goal, PFA is working with industry and regulatory groups providing technical counsel and product samples as these groups conduct research in an attempt to identify flammability test procedures that correlate to real world fire performance of composite home furnishings products.

Position Statement

Position Statement on Residential Furniture and Mattress Flammability

March 8, 2007

Since its formation in 1980, the Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA), through its various fire safety efforts and its members' technologies, has been instrumental in helping to educate the users of flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) about the safe use and storage of the product and thereby contribute to reducing loss of life, injuries and property damage due to fires.

As the key comfort component in household furnishings products, FPF has been vital to United States mattress manufacturers by helping them comply with the Federal Flammability Standard for Mattresses (FF4-72) and by helping the residential upholstered furniture industry build products that comply with the voluntary UFAC performance standard. The efforts of the mattress and upholstered furniture industries, along with a reduction in the number of smokers, and increased use of smoke detectors have been effective in helping to significantly reduce the incidence of household fire fatalities resulting from smoldering ignition by cigarettes. New regulations throughout the United States requiring reduced ignition propensity ("Fire Safe") cigarettes should also help to reduce the incidence of household fires. While smoldering ignition remains by far the most common cause of fires that originate in household furnishings products, it is important to work toward a further reduction in the number of fires that originate in household furnishings ignited by small open flame sources such as disposable lighters and candles.

In addressing small open flame ignition fires with home furnishings, all of the flammable components present in the composite item play an important role. In the case of a smoldering heat source, which burns through the outer layers of a composite, FPF helps reduce the chance of ignition. But, with a small open flame ignition source, those same outer layers can become significant fuel sources contributing to involvement of the composite product. Thus, to properly address ignition by small open flame, the burning characteristics of the composite product must be considered.

To help achieve fire safety goals, the PFA offers the following Position Statement on Small Open Flame Testing of Upholstered Furniture Foams.

The Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) has been a long time supporter of a national, performance-based small open flame standard for upholstered furniture. To be effective, a standard must:

  1. be based on the composite performance of the finished piece including all items of assembly;
  2. be appropriate to the risk of small open flame ignition;
  3. be free from bias toward any component;
  4. be reproducible and technically feasible.

Combustion modification technologies used to produce flexible polyurethane foam to help furniture manufacturers meet such a standard must be compatible with available foam production methods.

Products that comply with any resulting test protocol should be:

  • Commercially viable and saleable;
  • Effective in resisting ignition by small open flame without compromising smoldering ignition performance;
  • Safe for workers, the public and the environment.

PFA position on fire prevention and fire safety education

PFA believes that broad educational efforts conducted on an ongoing basis can be effective in preventing household fires. In addition to educational efforts, the installation and use of fire detection (smoke, heat and CO detectors) and suppression systems (extinguishers and sprinklers) are also important elements of a successful fire safety program.

PFA is a trade association comprised of United States flexible polyurethane foam manufacturers and their suppliers. PFA manufacturing members account for about 70% of all domestic FPF production. FPF is used as a key comfort component in most upholstered furniture and mattress products and it plays an important fire safety role by helping to reduce smoldering ignition.

Since its founding in 1980, PFA has been heavily involved in consumer fire safety education. PFA also provides information to users of FPF regarding safe handling and storage procedures.

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