You might pay no mind to what's filling your home's comfy sofas, but you should; fire safety experts have likened this material to "foam gasoline."
Many of today's homes are made with synthetic materials—upholstery stuffed with combustible polyurethane foam, for example—that burn quicker than "legacy" furnishings made of leather, wool, and cotton. Studies have confirmed that rooms filled with synthetic furniture that are set on fire reach dangerous temperatures quicker than similar rooms filled with legacy furnishings. Now, NFPA has released a new report further underscoring upholstered furniture impacts on home fires.
The report, "Home Fires That Began With Upholstered Furniture," describes some alarming outcomes. For instance:
- From 2010 to 2014, there was an average of 5,630 home structure fires per year in which upholstered furniture was the first item ignited. These fires caused an annual average of 440 civilian fire deaths, 700 civilian fire injuries, and $269 million in direct property damage
- On average, one out of every 13 reported upholstered furniture fires resulted in death
- Overall, fires beginning with upholstered furniture accounted for 18 percent of home fire deaths
The report also details how smoking materials, electrical appliances, and candles contributed to these fires.
Upholstered furniture is one of a few concerns safety advocates pinpoint as contributing to today's fire problem in modern homes. Home fire sprinklers have the power to reduce these risks.
Download the new upholstered fire report and the accompanying fact sheet.