How safe is your furniture

Article From HSTSS

On 13th January 2014 the BBC broadcast an episode of Fake Britain which focused on the sale of sofas and mattresses in the UK which were claimed to be non-compliant with the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988.


The programme showed 10 sofas being purchased by Leicestershire Trading Standards from a number of well-known retailers and a number of memory-foam mattresses purchased by the programme makers themselves.

When these were tested by independent testing laboratories all of them failed to meet the current UK Regulations. The testing was shown alongside video footage of the fire at Woolworth’s in Manchester in 1979 in which 10 people lost their lives and which ultimately led to the development of the regulatory regime for upholstered furniture.

HSTTS are aware that most if not all retailers already demand that all such items falling under the Furniture Regulations are independently tested and evidence of compliance (usually in the form of test reports) submitted to the retailer to keep on file for reference. In some instances the retailer is also commissioning their own testing on goods actually delivered to the retailer as part of a due diligence program.

The BBC programme inferred that, based on their testing, there may be a significant proportion of non-compliant upholstered furniture and mattresses on the UK market. HSTTS does not know how true this inference is but how confident are you that the products you place on the market are compliant with the strict UK Regulations?

HSTTS is able to offer a range of fully UKAS-accredited flammability testing for upholstery fabrics and filling materials for furniture and mattresses including:

Furniture & Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations:

  • Schedule 1 (foam fillings test)
  • Schedule 2 (Non-foam filling tests)
  • Schedule 3 (interliner test)
  • Schedule 4 (‘cigarette’ test)
  • Schedule 5 (‘match’ test)

The above tests are based on

BS 5852:Part 1:1979, BS 5852:Part 2:1982 and BS 6807:1986.

Other tests available include:

  • BS 7176 Ignitability of upholstered furniture
  • BS 7177 Ignitability of mattresses, divans and bed-bases
  • BS 5852:2006
  • EN 1021-1 and EN 1012-2
  • EN 597-1 and EN 597-2

and many more …

The UK’s current fire safety regulations for furniture have been estimated to save approximately 250 lives every year since their introduction in 1988. Changes in the supply chain market such as the admission of new countries to the EU and the movement of manufacturing offshore affects the potential for non-compliant product to be placed on the UK market and the retailer or importer must become ever more vigilent.

How well do you know your supply chain?

Do you have adequate records to show the traceability between test reports for the individual materials used in upholstered furniture and mattresses and the furniture/mattresses that you sell?

Not only can HSTTS provide testing services but our team of experts can provide consultancy and guidance on how to ensure that you have a robust system of traceability.

Don’t let yourselves get caught out – lives are at risk!

For more information and advice:

For more information and advice about flammability testing or compliance with the UK Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, contact:

          Paul Neesam, Head of Fire Testing   

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