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New impression tests chairs

Statistics show that at least 36% of fires at home started in upholstered furniture and mattresses. The number of deaths and injuries can drop significantly if the fire safety of upholstered furniture and mattresses is improved.

In 2016 the Institute for Safety started a co-operation with a retailer with the purpose to initiate a new approach towards product requirements for upholstered furniture and mattresses. Those requirements should improve consumer safety significantly taking into account current living situations and current research on domestic fire safety. The overall goal is to improve domestic fire safety through safer home furnishing products.

In order to achieve this on an industry wide scale the aim is to develop new product standards and to influence regulation in the EU. In this study, the most frequently sold sofas and mattresses were tested for ignition and fire behaviour in a realistic residential environment. The retailer has recently developed a chair in which another material composition is used than in conventional chairs. The next step in the partnership with the retailer is to perform impression tests with these new chairs and to compare their burning behaviour with that of conventional chairs.

Purpose and research questions
The retailer arranged the chairs for the impression tests to increase knowledge of technical solutions to material innovation and also fire safety. The purpose of this research is to get an impression of the burning behaviour of the newly developed chair and the probability of escape and survivability in the domestic area when exposed to different common test ignition sources (cigarette and crib 5). In addition, this research serves as a comparison between the new and the conventional chairs. As the purpose of the tests is to study the fire behaviour in a realistic environment, no laboratory tests have been carried out. Based on these objectives the following research questions have been defined.

Research question 1: What is the burning behaviour in a single room environment of the new and conventional chair of the retailer when exposed to common test ignition sources such as a cigarette or crib 5?
Research question 2: What is the probability of escape and survivability in a single room environment when only the new or conventional chair is burning?

As mentioned above, the purpose is to get an impression of the burning behaviour, probability of escape and survivability in a single room environment. In order to achieve this, a limited number of fire tests (experiments) have been carried out. It should be noted however, that there is no such thing as a ‘standard single room environment’ or a ‘representative fire scenario’. For this reason, the tests have been carried out in a room that resembles a single room environment and a fire scenario that is common in practice. This means that this study is not intended to provide a comprehensive description of the burning behaviour and of the probability of escape and survivability in a residential environment.

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