Jump to content


Power Member
  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Recent Profile Visitors

605 profile views
  1. The quote above (August 12) is from the American Chemistry Council's site. The ACC is pretty much a lobby group for the flame retardant industry; therefore not to be trusted to give an objective view. In fact, while it's true that HCN is produced when various materials burn (including wool), what is also true is that far greater amounts of HCN (up to 10 times more) are produced when flame retardants in products burn. See: https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/29324384/Flame_retardants_in_UK_furniture_increase_smoke_toxicity_more_than_they_reduce_fire_growth_rate.
  2. FRFree

    Giving sofa to charity

    The Furniture Regulations are very confusing on these points. But don't expect clarity any time soon! The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been sitting on proposed changes it put out for consultation in 2016. Those proposals were very inadequate anyway. For political reasons, the proposals were rushed out by a new team who know next to nothing about the regulations, and do not even have any files on them! They were completely unaware, for example, that everyone had agreed to propose a new permanent label carrying the words: DO NOT REMOVE THIS LABEL. Since people currently often do then find they can't sell a product on. The position with charities is also unclear. The Guidance to the Regulations (see below) suggests that if a charity is selling furniture in the course of a business, i.e. in a charity shop, then all the labelling requirements must be followed. If however, a charity is giving furniture away for free or for a small fee, then it probably doesn't have to comply with the Regulations. Most charities, however - understandably perhaps - will not take furniture from you that does carry the permanent label. Labelling is again confusing. First, there are no labelling requirements for mattresses and bed-bases under the Furniture Regulations (unlike for sofas). For reasons that no one knows, mattress covers/ticking does not fall into the scope of the Regulations. It therefore by default falls under EU law - the General Product Safety Regulations (Brexit should be interesting here). Just to complicate things even further, the GPSD is advisory not prescriptive like the Furniture Regs. The advice under the GPSR is that mattress covers should pass BS7177. BS7177 has labelling requirements. In practice, therefore, mattresses and bed-bases should carry the BS7177 label, even though it is not illegal if they don't. On guidance, as I've said before, for potential legal reasons I would not use - or at least not rely on - FIRA's guide. It contains errors, just like the government's guidance but I would use the latter's, just in case: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.bis.gov.uk/files/file24685.pdf
  3. FRFree

    Foam filling and schedule 3 interliner

    A couple of points that may help. First, the Furniture Regulations apply only to suppliers. If, therefore, you are making or re-upholstering furniture just for your own use, it does not have to comply. However, you can not in future sell it on or give it away, since that makes you a supplier.The Regulations are very much out of date and were full of grey areas in the first place. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is responsible for them. However, the lead official on them is almost totally ignorant about them. If you don't believe me, give her a ring and ask her the kinds of questions being raised here. Her name is Debra Macleod: 020 7215 0973. I would not recommend FIRA for advice. They are a commercial test house and trade association with some heavily vested interests. Their technical knowledge has somewhat diminished over the past few years under their all-out assault for profits. I also would not trust their guide to the Regulations: apart from containing errors, if you follow it and things go wrong you would not have much of a legal defence. Better, therefore, to use the government's guidance. That too is full of errors and is not even easily available but you can find it here: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.bis.gov.uk/files/file24685.pdf
  4. The Furniture Regulations are ineffective and frankly in a mess. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (yes, I know: what is the department for business doing looking after safety laws which, to put right, would cost businesses money) revealed in 2014 that they do not even work and proposed changes that would. But industry intervened and BEIS officials (all but one) went along with delaying the changes. They re-proposed some of them in 2016 after pressure from the press but have been sitting on a response to the consultation ever since. Essentially, this is the (messy) situation: the Furniture Regulations apply to suppliers based in the UK, not consumers. Any retailer, therefore, based in the UK must sell products that comply with the regulations. A consumer is free to buy furniture from anywhere outside the UK, because they are not a supplier. They cannot, however, then sell on or give away the product because that makes them a supplier. Internet sellers have greatly obscured this situation. As Tom says, Amazon was and is selling non-compliant furniture from suppliers outside the UK. When challenged about this by Trading Standards, Amazon claimed it is not a supplier; it's just an agent. Trading Standards sought legal counsel which disagreed - confirming that because the consumer pays Amazon, gets a receipt from them and complains to them when things go wrong, it is a supplier. Amazon removed the particular product from sale but did not agree that it is a supplier. It is perhaps a measure of how incompetent government is that nothing has been done about this four years or so on. As for BEIS, a couple of us managed to get a meeting with the lead official on these Regulations in May this year (mind you, that took a year and a complaint to the Minister to achieve). This person insisted that they are working hard on the necessary changes. However, she did not know that the Regulations are based on British Standards and did not know what an interliner is, even though a proposal for interliners is in their 2016 consultation that she is apparently working so hard on. I can guarantee that she is completely unaware of the issue of internet sellers.
  5. FRFree

    Fire blanket on bed for smoker

    Just to be clear, there are no flammability requirements for bedding. You can of course buy flame-resistant bedding and, for sure, much ordinary bedding contains flame retardant chemicals anyway (the FR industry is very good at persuading makers of flammable products to stock up on their goods). Research has shown, however, that FRs are very toxic in their stable state and, once they catch fire, produce large volumes of toxic fumes such as hydrogen cyanide. Which is probably more dangerous than tobacco smoke.
  6. FRFree

    Fire safety labels

    It's complicated! Essentially, the Furniture Regulations apply to covers and fillings of sofas but only the fillings of mattresses. In the many years I worked for the government on these regulations, I was never able to find out why mattress covers were excluded. Mattress covers by default fall under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, as Tom says. This means the requirements for mattresses are not straightforward, i.e: The Furniture Regs are UK law and prescriptive The GPSR are EU law and advisory Which means by law you must comply with the Furniture Regs but where the GPSR is concerned you can decide yourself what constitutes 'safe'. In practice, everyone agrees that BS 7177 should be met to demonstrate 'safe' for mattress covers. But you aren't breaking the law exactly if you don't use it. It would be up to Trading Standards to convince a court that you should have used it and therefore your product isn't safe (which to be fair a court would almost certainly do). BS 7177 has a labelling requirement. Again, it's not against the law exactly not to put it on a product but it would certainly help Trading Standards' case if it's absent. The permanent label required by the Furniture Regs, however, is a legal requirement: if it's missing, then in effect your mattress is illegal. Therefore I agree with Tom that it would be unwise to provide your tenants with a sofa that doesn't carry the permanent label. And in practice that pretty much goes for mattresses too. Just to add to the complication . . . While BS 7177 is used to demonstrate the safety of mattress covers, it's a composite test, i.e. carried out over the cover and the filling. Quite a few 'organic' mattress makers only test to BS 7177, claiming that it is the test for both covers and fillings. But it isn't. Fillings need to comply with the Furniture Regs. But some organic materials - like 100% latex - would never pass the fillings test but they can pass the BS 7177 test. You can guess the rest . . . The Department for Business started to resolve this and many other anomalies in the regulations but for the past 4 years they've done bugger all about them. I suspect they're waiting for Brexit and hoping that they can simply ditch them then.
  7. Yes, anyone who sells a piece of furniture in the UK is a 'supplier' under the Furniture Regs. Technically, this also applies to anyone giving away furniture for free. In practice, of course, it is highly unlikely that Trading Standards would know about or, if they did, bother to pursue an individual who's given away a second-hand sofa. It's worth bearing in mind that these Regulations are woefully out of date, not having been amended for nearly 30 years or so. Unfortunately, the Department for Business which is responsible for these Regs has deliberately ensured that the officials now 'working' on keep blocking all attempts for updating. Why? A long and complicated story but essentially in order to cover their backs. For more info, check out: www.toxicsofa.com.
  8. Key here is who is the supplier. If it is ebay, then what Tom says applies - although in practice you'll find ebay will deny they are the supplier. They'll say they're just the agent for the supplier based in Poland. If this is true, then the sofa does not have to comply with the UK's Furniture Regulations - although, of course, your dad should have been informed that was the case. However, it appears as if the seller in this case is based in London and has admitted in effect to being the supplier. This means he has supplied your dad with an illegal product. It is both ludicrous and possibly criminal of him to suggest that slapping on a photograph of the permanent label makes your sofa legal! First, the label reflects the fact that the sofa has passed the required Furniture Regs' tests - which this clearly has not. Second, it is not true to say it's safe because it was made in the EU. It may or may not comply with EU fire safety regulations but even if it does, these do not apply in the UK and the UK has much more stringent fire safety regs for sofas (even if they don't actually work!). But in any case, where it was manufactured is irrelevant; the legal issue is that he is a supplier based in the UK and therefore is legally bound to supply sofas that comply with UK law. I agree: you should take this case to Trading Standards, quoting the facts as above. Trading Standards are severely strapped for cash and cannot often even afford to buy sofas to test them! However, in this case they do not need to, since the very fact that the supplier has admitted the sofa only complies with EU law and has suggested falsely placing the UK permanent label on the product should be sufficient for TS to threaten prosecution, seek a refund, etc. The good news, as such, is that your dad is not breaking the law by owning a sofa that does not comply with the UK regs; it's the supplier who is breaking the law. The not so good news is that you do not know how fire-safe it is; also, your dad cannot pass/sell it on because then he becomes a supplier to whom the law does apply.
  9. Hi Tom. This is of course just my view! But the problem with FIRA is similar to what has happened with BRE, British Standards, and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist. All started more or less as government agencies but all are now commercial concerns, some still receiving government funding also (as with British Standards). FIRA used to in effect be the government's voice on the Furniture Regs. However, it has long ceased to be connected to the government, even though it likes to strongly imply that this is the case (for obvious reasons). Also, it became much more commercially-minded a few years ago by appointing someone who better remain nameless for now but who has her own PR company; that and FIRA becoming part of BM Trada. In my experience this means that FIRA has become less technically expert in testing (concentrating more on other sides to their business) and has also made several questionable alliances. One such is that they work very closely with the flame retardant and chemical treatment industries. This has resulted in the situation where FIRA contributed test research work that proved the government's current match test in the Regulations doesn't work and its proposed new one does. Yet today FIRA claims there is nothing wrong with the current test and lies that the new one will require more not less flame retardants. Why? Well, the new match test would hugely reduce the use of flame retardants . . . In the meantime, people are dying in house fires that arise due to the fact the current match test doesn't work in more than 89% of cases. FIRA knows this and yet is actively preventing safety changes going through. As for their guide . . . I don't really want to go into all the details but let's just say it shows their lack of technical expertise. This also became apparent when the government went out to tender test houses for a new match test. The test house that won provided a coherent and well-argued new test (that was eventually taken up). FIRA not only could not come up with a new test, what they did present made little sense. But, as said, the government's guide badly needs amending too. Unfortunately, the Department for Business currently has no one working on these Regulations with any understanding of them, or desire to get them made safe. They went out to consultation in Sep. 2016, which included the new match test (once again!) but still have not issued a response. They had a couple of meetings in the consultation period to discuss the proposals, but almost everyone they invited was from the chemical industry or friends of FIRA who do not want change.
  10. To Natalia: Unfortunately, you cannot be confident that furniture bought from Amazon UK is compliant with the UK Regs. Amazon sells furniture in the UK from outside the country and claims it can do so because it is not a retailer, it just acts as an agent for the e.g. Belgian retailer. Trading Standards challenged Amazon about this, pointing out that Amazon provides a guarantee and deals with any problems therefor it is a supplier; however, Amazon kept insisting that they are in effect not a supplier. Trading Standards paid for legal advice which concluded that Amazon, Ebay, etc, are in fact suppliers but this does not appear to have had any effect. Amazon did agree to remove a sofa that Trading Standards had focussed on but not by agreeing they were suppliers, i.e. they are still supplying plenty of other non-compliant bits of furniture. You are right to be concerned since a tenant could of course sue you if there was a fire in a sofa/mattress that you supplied that does not comply with the UK Regs. This is because as a landlord, you are a supplier under the regulations. Natalia Spzoo is correct to say that they can supply non-compliant furniture to the UK if they are supplying direct to a UK consumer from their base in Poland. However, if they are supplying in the UK via Amazon UK then Trading Standards at least is of the view that their products must comply. They are also correct to state that standards are voluntary. However, the UK Regs are not standards, they're legislation and therefore are not voluntary; they're compulsory. I note that they don't mention the fact that there is an EN standard for furniture flammability - match and cigarette test - but as far as we know no EU manufacture complies with the match test; some do with the cigarette test, mainly because that can be achieved without the use of flame retardant chemicals. It might be worth asking them if Amazon UK is their UK retailer (although I suspect they're aware of the dangers of answering that).
  11. Tom said: I fully accept that consumers are not subject to the regulations but when you read "Suppliers affected" in the above document nowhere does it say private individuals, who are not businesses, are subject either. Could you please point me to where I could get clarification. I'm not clear what you mean by 'private individuals'. However, the Department for Business has been clear about who needs to comply, i.e anyone who supplies furniture (to someone else). This means, for example, furniture retailers in the UK or landlords supplying to their tenants. But they don't apply to someone who has bought the furniture for their own use. Therefore, you or I can buy say a sofa from Germany which does not comply with the UK regs; that's perfectly legal. But we cannot later sell it on within the UK to another consumer.
  12. Sorry, I should clarify. FIRA used to be in effect a government agency. That was a long time ago. They are now a commercial organisation - a test house and a furniture association trade body. However, they like people to think they are some sort of official body. They aren't. Their guide to the Furniture Regulations was not approved by the government (despite FIRA trying to get it approved). Despite its faults, you're better off referring to the government's guide to the Regs: https://www.merseyfire.gov.uk/aspx/pages/prevention/furnitureguide.pdf. The reason I'd be wary of FIRA is a) because in recent years, they have become ruthlessly commercial and b) their testing expertise and knowledge has declined considerably (probably due to focussing more on other commercial interests) - in my view, I should add.
  13. First of all, they are not 'FIRA Regs'. FIRA is a commercial test house that also acts as a furniture trade association. And its guide to the Regs was not approved by the government. So, while the government guide is not perfect, you're better off referring to that; one place to access it: https://www.merseyfire.gov.uk/aspx/pages/prevention/furnitureguide.pdf. The situation with charities is complicated. The government guide to the Regulations states that furniture must comply if the charity is providing it in the way of business, e.g. selling it in a charity shop. It says that if it's being given away by a charity, or for just a small fee, it probably does not have to comply. In practice though - and perhaps because over the years people have become more litigious - charities are reluctant to even give away furniture that does not carry the permanent label.
  14. P.S. I'd be wary using the FIRA guide to the Furniture Regs. Well, I'd be wary of FIRA full stop!
  15. Actually, private sellers are subject to the Furniture Regulations. They apply to anyone supplying furniture in the UK, whether a business or an individual, private or otherwise. They don't apply to consumers, e.g. you can buy a sofa from say Germany for your private use, in the UK, but you can't then sell it on to someone else in the UK. The position with internet sellers is unclear. Ebay, Amazon, etc, claim that are not sellers, just agents for sellers. Which means they can provide you a sofa in the UK that is say from Germany and therefore not compliant with the Furniture Regs. Trading Standards has challenged this position, arguing that internet sellers are in fact sellers/suppliers and Amazon.co.uk therefore is based in the UK and should not be selling non-compliant furniture. But the situation remains unresolved to my knowledge.