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Monday October 03, 2016

Preliminary Furniture Barrier Testing Was Promising, Say CPSC Staff

Full-scale upholstered furniture barrier testing by CPSCers in 2014-2015 showed some promise, according to an agency report made available September 21. However, the staffers noted that the work was just preliminary and limited both by involving just one chair design and by use of barriers intended for mattresses. As is typical of discussions of upholstered furniture flammability, the report emphasized, "The upholstered furniture market is large, with differences in design, decorative features, components, constructions, and sizes, which together present a further complication in assessing the performance needed from a fire barrier used with upholstered furniture to address the hazard."


It also noted that there needs to be work to ensure that the five barrier chosen are truly representative, recommending, "Significant variations in chair construction, such as blown-in, loose-filled back cushions, and fire barriers placed in other locations…of the chair (i.e., outer back or dust cover locations), different chair geometries, different upholstery fabrics, etc., should be evaluated to see how the fire barriers perform in those configurations." Differences in protection against smolder versus open flame ignition also should be well understood, according to the report (


Although just released, the report is dated April 2016. It thus preceded the recent setback in the decades-old effort to update the agency's furniture flammability requirements. Staff last month told commissioners (PSL, 9/19/16) not only should the existing NPR be scrapped, but suggestions to use California's TB 117-2013 are unworkable. Instead, there needs to be a new NPR. Manufacturing variability was a primary cause of these rejections.