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Home furniture fires kill 1,500 people a year in Europe, and seriously injure 15,000 people. This is a major hazard to consumers that has been overlooked for more than 20 years. It is difficult to think of any other EU consumer safety issue that has been neglected for so long by most regulators at EU as well as national level.
Complete exposure to the dangers
Only the UK and Ireland have introduced stringent fire safety standards for upholstered furniture. Adopted in 1988, the UK furniture and furnishings fire safety regulation has been a major factor in the reduction of home fire deaths and injuries over the last twenty years.
Similar high standards of fire safety do not exist in any other Member State of the EU. Therefore, consumers in other Member States are exposed completely to the dangers of upholstered furniture fires – especially foam-filled furniture. Once involved, foam-filled furniture creates a major increase in the fire hazard of any kind of home fire.
Discussion about the standards|
The fire safety requirements of upholstered furniture are under pressure due to the use of flame retardants. The European Fire Safety Alliance regrets this and believes that this should not be necessary. After all, there are enough alternatives available nowadays to make furniture more fire-resistant without the use of flame retardants. However, current standards in methods to test fire-resistance of furniture hamper these innovative solutions to come to market. Contrary to current standards, the European Fire Safety Alliance argues to focus on the performance of the burning item, that means to set requirements for the fire behavior of the final product, instead of requirements for the individual components of the product. In this way, fire safety standards do not have to be lowered and innovative solutions are able to come to market if the final product is fireproof. The European Fire Safety Alliance has no opinion or preference about the way in which the fire safety of furniture is realized.
Action at EU level is required to guarantee adequate protection for all EU consumers alike.
- The European Fire Safety Alliance urges governments and manufacturers to increase fire safety of furniture.
- The European Fire Safety Alliance calls for focussing on the performance of the burning item, that means Requirements for the fire behavior of the final product, by which innovative solutions to improve fire safety are able to come to market.
- The European Fire Safety Alliance has no preference for a specific solution or product.