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The burning behaviour of sofas during smoke propagation experiments

Little is known about the effects and effectiveness of different methods for evacuation and firefighting against smoke propagation. The Fire Service Academy of the Institute for Safety (IFV) have conducted during two weeks in the summer 2019 smoke propagation experiments in a residential building, located in the town Oudewater in the Netherlands. Nineteen experiments have been carried out.

The most sold sofa in the Netherlands was used as the fire load during the experiments that focused on smoke propagation. Although the research focused mainly on smoke propagation, the results of the experiments also provided interesting insights into the combustion of sofas. It describes the effect of the different variables on the mass loss of the sofas and the peak heat release rate. The study also compared fire caused by older and modern sofas and shows that the plastics used in modern furniture cause enormous smoke production, which puts residents in a non-survivable situation.

This report is a follow-up to the report ‘Impression tests upholstered furniture and mattresses’ from 2017. The recent 2019 study has not only examined the effect in the fire room, but also the effect in the adjacent rooms. In order to improve the survivability for residents, not only measures to prevent or limit the spread of smoke are necessary, but also to limit smoke production.

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