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Mattress Fire Safety Standards in the US, the UK, and Canada: An Overview - Latexbear
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Mattress Fire Safety Standards in the US, the UK, and Canada: An Overview

(Last Updated On: July 18, 2018)

A new mattress is a huge investment, which is why it is expected of buyers to go to great lengths to find the perfect one in accordance with their needs! Apart from researching the pros and cons of each type of mattress and understanding health benefits of each, comparing prices and checking warranties and return policies is the norm for most mattress buyers.

What’s most important however, is for buyers to ensure that the mattress they’re eyeing is fire safe and meets local fire safety standards!

Why? Check out some figures from a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  • During 2005-09, a mattress or bedding was the first item to catch fire in an average of 10,260 reported home structure fires, per year.
  • These fires accounted for 14% deaths and 10% injuries, and comprised 3% of all home structure fires.
  • 27% of mattress fires had a heat source placed too close to the mattress.

While the bulk of mattresses today come armed with fire retardants or natural fire barriers, one can’t leave safety to chance. Knowing fire safety regulations is a must, to be able to determine whether or not a mattress in question meets safety standards.

Read on to know about fire safety standards in the US, UK, and Canada!

United States

The Standard for the Flammability of Mattresses and Mattress Pads, Regulation 1632, outlines requirements for testing of prototype designs of mattresses and mattress pads. The Standard also prescribes a test to determine the ignition resistance of a mattress or a mattress pad when exposed to a lighted cigarette.

All mattresses and mattress pads, including but not limited to adult and youth mattresses, crib mattresses, portable crib mattresses, bunk bed mattresses, futons, water beds, air mattresses, and detachable mattresses such as those used in convertible sofas, day beds, high risers, etc., as defined in the Standard are subject to the requirements.

General Requirements

  • Summary: The method measures ignition resistance of a mattress or a mattress pad by exposing the surface to lighted cigarettes. The environment is draft-protected. Surfaces to be tested include smooth, tape edge, and quilted or tufted locations. A two-sheet test is conducted on similar surface locations by placing the burning cigarettes between the sheets.
  • Test Criterion: When testing the mattress or mattress pad surface, individual cigarette test locations pass the test when the char length is less than 2 inches (5.1 cm) in any direction from the nearest point of the cigarette. Test operators should discontinue test and record a failure before reaching the 2 inch char length in the event of an obvious ignition.
  • Pre-Market Testing: Each manufacturer is required to perform prototype testing and should do so according to the requirements specified by the Standard and pass the test with acceptable results before selling or introducing their product in commerce.
  • Specimen Selection and Qualification: Manufacturers are required to perform prototype testing by selecting enough units of each proposed prototype such that there are six surfaces for testing. A minimum of three prototypes are required if both sides can be tested, six if only one side can be tested. Surfaces are tested according to 1632.4(d).

If all the cigarette test locations on all six mattress surfaces yield passing results as per 1632.3(b), the mattress prototype is accepted. If all six mattress pad surfaces yield passing results as per 1632.3(b), and all other applicable requirements prescribed under 1632.5 are met, the mattress pad prototype is accepted. Prototypes are rejected if one or more of cigarette test locations fail to meet test criterion.

Rules and Regulations

Labeling

  • All mattress pads containing a chemical fire retardant should be labeled with precautionary instructions to protect them from agents or treatments known to cause deterioration of flame resistance.
  • Mattress pads containing a chemical fire retardant should be labeled with the letter “T”. Labels should be permanent, prominent, conspicuous, and legible.
  • Each mattress or mattress pad subject to the Standard should bear a permanent, accessible, and legible label showing month and year of manufacturing, and location of the manufacturer.
  • The information required on labels, as described in this section, should be separate from other information. Other information, representations, or disclosures, appearing on labels should not interfere with, minimize, detract from, or conflict with the required information.
  • No person, other than the ultimate consumer, should remove or mutilate labels, required by this section to be affixed to any item.

Records

Manufacturers, importers, or other persons initially introducing mattresses or mattress pads subject to the Standard into commerce are required to maintain records as specified here:

  • Manufacturing specifications and description of each prototype along with an assigned prototype identification number.
  • Results and details of each prototype test performed in accordance with 1632.4 or 1632.5, including prototype identification number, ticking classification, if known, test room condition, cigarette locations, number of relights for each location, whether each cigarette location passed or failed, name and signature of person conducting the test and date of test. Records should include a certification by the person overseeing the testing.
  • Photograph of the bare surface of each prototype tested, in accordance with 1632.4 or 1632.5, with the prototype identification number and a clear designation as to which part of the prototype was sheeted and which part was tested bare.
  • Records to support determination that a particular material, other than the ticking or tape edge material used in a prototype did not influence the ignition resistance and could be substituted by another material. Such records should include photographs or physical specimens.
  • Manufacturing specifications and description of new ticking or tape edge material substituted in accordance with 1632.6 or 1632.7, with the prototype identification number.
  • Results and details of ticking classification test conducted in accordance with 1632.6, including the ticking classification (A, B, or C), test room condition, number of relights, whether each cigarette location passed or failed, name and signature of the person conducting the test and the date of the test, or a certification from the ticking supplier. Said certification should state ticking classification and that the ticking was tested in accordance with 1632.6.
  • Results and details of any test of tape edge materials conducted in accordance with 1632.7, including prototype identification number, test room condition, number of relights, whether each cigarette passed or failed, name and signature of person conducting the test and date of test. The record should include a certification by the person overseeing the testing.
  • Photograph of the bare surface of each prototype tested, in accordance with 1632.7, with the prototype identification number and a clear designation as to which part of the prototype was sheeted and which part was tested bare.
  • Details of approved alternate laundering procedures used in laundering mattress pads as required by the Standard during testing.
  • Identification, composition, and details of application of any flame retardant treatments employed relative to prototype components.
  • Disposition of all failing or rejected prototypes. Such records should demonstrate that items were retested and reworked in accordance with the Standard prior to sale or distribution, and that they comply with the Standard.
  • Records required by this paragraph should be maintained for as long as the prototype is in production, the ticking is being used on the prototype, and/or the tape edge material is being used on the prototype, and should be retained for 3 years thereafter.

Guarantee Tests

  • Reasonable and representative tests for issuing a guarantee under section 8 of the Act for mattress or mattress pads subject to the Standard should be in accordance with the requirements of the Standard.

Compliance

  • Persons subject to the Flammable Fabrics Act should not manufacture for sale, import, distribution, or otherwise market or handle any mattress or mattress pad not in compliance with 1632.31.

Exemption

  • A mattress or mattress pad manufactured in accordance with a physician’s written prescription, or in accordance with other comparable written medical therapeutic specification, to be used in connection with the treatment or management of a named individual’s physical illness or injury, will be considered a “one of a kind mattress” and will be exempt from testing under the Standard as per 1632.2(b)(4).
  • This is provided that the mattress bears a permanent, conspicuous and legible label which states below warning:

This mattress or mattress pad may be subject to ignition and hazardous smoldering from cigarettes. It was manufactured in accordance with a physician’s prescription and has not been tested under the Federal Standard for the Flammability of Mattresses (FF 4-72).

United Kingdom

According to the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988, filling foam in crumb form is allowed only if:

  • The foam from which the crumb is derived passes the ignitability test as specified in Part I of Schedule 1
  • The foam in crumb form passes the ignitability test as specified in Part II of Schedule 1

Schedule 1 Part I, II

Ignitability test for polyurethane foam in slab or cushion form is as follows.

  • Foam should be tested in accordance to the method detailed in BS 5852: Part 2 using the cover fabric, corresponding to specifications.
  • The fabric should be 100% flame retardant polyester fiber with plain weave construction. The yarn in the warp should be of 1.6 decitex fiber, spun to a linear density of 37 tex, and Z twist at 420 turns per meter. The fabric should be woven to 20.5 yarn threads per centimeter in the warp.
  • The yarn in the weft should be of 3.3 decitex fiber spun to a linear density of 100 tex, Z twist at 550 turns per meter. The fabric should be woven to between 12.6 and 13 threads per centimeter in the weft.
  • The fabric finish should be scoured and heat set and mass should be 220 g per m2, plus or minus 5%.
  • As specified in clause 6.1.1 of BS 5852: Part 2 the test rig should have expanded steel platforms not less than 28×6 mm mesh size.
  • The test should be carried out in accordance with BS 5852: Part 2. Flaming or smoldering failure is determined against the criteria of clause 4 of BS 5852: Part 2.
  • For the foam to pass the test, resultant mass loss should be less than 60 g.

Summary

  • Filling materials need to meet specified ignition requirements
  • Upholstery composites need to be cigarette resistant
  • First suppliers of domestic upholstered furniture need to maintain records for up to 5 years to prove compliance with regulations

Who Does This Apply To

All persons in the business supply chain including:

  • Persons who supply furniture and furnishings or provide re-upholstery services- manufacturers, retailers, and importers
  • Persons who supply filling materials and fabrics to the furniture industry or directly to consumers
  • Persons who provide re-upholstery and re-covering services
  • Persons who supply second-hand furniture in the course of business or trade
  • Persons who hire out furniture such as included in accommodation, let in holiday homes, or included in residential furnished lettings

Note that first suppliers of domestic upholstered furniture are responsible for ensuring that the regulations are met. Specific responsibilities apply to other sectors like furnished residential properties, sheltered accommodation, holiday homes and apartments and chalet hotels, caravans, auctioneers, etc.

Product Ranges Covered

  • Filling material for mattresses, mattress pads or toppers, pillows, bed-bases, divans, scatter cushions, and seat pads
  • Foam and non-foam filling material for furniture
  • Loose and stretch covers for furniture

Canada

Mattresses are covered under Hazardous Products in Canada. As per the Mattresses Regulations, pursuant to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, regulations apply to any item that is used to be slept on, is promoted as such, or is normally used as such, and containing resilient material enclosed within ticking.

The regulations do not apply to the following:

  • Mattress pads
  • Infant multi-use pads
  • Parts of upholstered furniture that may be used to sleep on, but are not a separate mattress
  • Crib, cradle, or bassinet mattresses
  • Prescription mattresses

Requirement

Test methods are detailed under the Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB-4.2 No. 27.7-2013, entitled Textile test methods — Combustion resistance of mattresses — Cigarette test, published in April 2013. When subjected to tests in accordance with these standards, mattresses should not exhibit in more than one specimen, melting or charring of the surface that extends more than 50 mm in any horizontal direction from the nearest point of the original location of the test cigarette, or continuing combustion in the mattress assembly 10 minutes after the cigarette has extinguished.

Legislative requirements for futon mattresses are defined in greater detail. Check this link to know more about how the regulations apply to futon mattresses, test methods, influence of mattress design, material and construction on flammability, and importance of consumer education concerning fire safety.

In conclusion,

Mattress safety doesn’t come about by simply buying fire-safe products; it is equally important for consumers to be mindful of their actions so as to prevent accidents.

Few tips would be:

  • Avoiding smoking while in bed
  • Placing fire and heat sources away from beds and mattresses
  • Not leaving candles unattended
  • Keeping lighters, candles, etc. out of the reach of children
  • Regularly testing smoke alarms on each level of the house and in each bedroom

We hope that the information contained in this guide will be of use!

1 Comment

  1. Roberto says:

    It works really well for me

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