Commentary: Why fire sprinklers must be considered in the debate surrounding flame retardants in upholstered furniture

Blog Post created by freddurso Employee on Aug 13, 2018

There's growing concern pertaining to chemical flame retardants used in upholstered furniture. While aiming to improve fire safety at home, these chemicals have gotten the attention of health advocates, who highlight research linking these chemicals to cancer and other ailments. Striking the right balance between fire safety and health concerns is key, but there's another solution that must be brought to the table: home fire sprinklers. 


That's the stance of Meghan Housewright, director of NFPA's Policy Institute. In her latest column appearing in NFPA Journal, she points to extensive research on fire's devastating impact on homebuilding materials; homes with large, open floor plans; and upholstered furniture filled with synthetics that some safety advocates have described as "foam gasoline."


"The search for a path that won't compromise fire safety or health should lead policymakers straight to an existing, toxin-free solution: home fire sprinklers," says Housewright. "As policymakers contend with the health ramifications of the flame retardant chemical debate, they cannot lose sight of the very real fire problem. 


"[Outside of Maryland and California], nowhere else do statewide directives exist to follow [a model building code requirement to fire sprinkler new, one- and two-family homes], meaning the vast majority of the country's homes are built without fire sprinklers."


Read Housewright's column in NFPA Journal for more information.