After reviewing the entire record before it, the NFPA Standards Council voted today to cease standards development of NFPA 277, Standard Methods of Tests for Evaluating Fire and Ignition Resistance of Upholstered Furniture Using a Flaming Ignition Source. In making its decision, the Council concluded there is a fundamental lack of consensus on how to test and evaluate residential upholstered furniture flammability exposed to a flaming ignition source.
Burning upholstered furniture presents a significant fire issue that demands a solution to protect both citizens and first responders. Unfortunately, creating a test method to assist in addressing this part of the fire problem has proved quite challenging, and ultimately resulted in the Council’s decision.
In 2014, the Standards Council voted to approve the development of a new test method that was to evaluate fire/ignition resistance of upholstered residential furniture subject to a flaming ignition source. After extensive discussion and review of available information and data, the Technical Committee on Fire Tests decided to address the fire problem associated with residential upholstered furniture by measuring total and peak heat release after ignition and developing pass/fail criteria to reduce flashover. The draft document proposed by the Technical Committee for entry into revision reflects that proposed approach, which served as a change in direction from the original proposed scope.
However, numerous comments in opposition to the draft of NFPA 277 received by the Standards Council expressed stakeholder and industry concerns with the document’s scope; the pass/fail criteria; industry concerns; health and safety issues; the technical requirements of the test method; and fundamental aspects of the test method, including duplication of existing test methods.
Given this decision, we are faced with the same pressing question we started with: How can the persistent fire problem of residential upholstered furniture flammability be addressed in an effort to mitigate the nation’s home fire problem?
One clear path forward for addressing the U.S. home fire problem is the adoption and enforcement of requirements contained in the model building codes for the installation of home fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family construction. Fire sprinklers have been proven to dramatically reduce the likelihood of civilian fatalities, injuries and direct property damage. They also provide enormous health and safety benefits to firefighters by extinguishing fires or keeping them small and reducing exposure to toxic hazards.
I strongly encourage the individuals and organizations that weighed in to our process and expressed a desire to reduce the fire problem and to better protect the public and first responders from the devastating effects of fire, to remain vocal and engaged towards the solution that exists in home fire sprinklers. NFPA aggressively advocates for widespread installation of home fire sprinklers and needs others to do the same.
In addition, we firmly believe that the participants who raised concerns about the toxicity of flame retardant chemicals, including first responders, need answers to their concerns.
More information on home fire sprinklers can be found at www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.