Just how potentially dangerous are the generously stuffed couches and sofas in your home? Consider this: New, statistical analysis from NFPA indicates that upholstered furniture, as either the first item ignited or the principal item contributing to fire spread, played a part in nearly a quarter of all deaths in home structure fires from 2006 to 2010.
Researched for decades, this problem is getting new attention from NFPA and others. NFPA Journal reports in its latest issue that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has sought input for a furniture flammability standard as California seeks to update its widely used testing standard. NFPA has prioritized furniture flammability by recently releasing a white paper on this issue and green-lighting public comment on a possible test method that evaluates fire resistance of upholstered furniture subjected to a flaming ignition source. (This new test method would ideally complement NFPA 260, Standard Methods of Tests and Classification System for Cigarette Ignition Resistance of Components of Upholstered Furniture, and NFPA 261, Standard Method of Test for Determining Resistance of Mock-Up Upholstered Furniture Material Assemblies to Ignition by Smoldering Cigarettes.
"We've dealt with other aspects of home fires and fire deaths, from home fire sprinklers to the use of smoke alarms, and it's time to take another look at furniture," Philip Stittleburg, chair of NFPA's Board of Directors, tells NFPA Journal. "It's a problem we've been working on for many years, and we need to figure out our next logical step."