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Guest JulieAub

Can I sell a chair without fire safety label on ebay?

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Guest Emily

Hi Tom,

I'm impressed by the help you have given people and your careful consideration of the issues.

I was on the point of buying some retro 1960s furniture made in East Germany when the fire safety issues occurred to me. It seems there are plenty of online sites (including Etsy) which are market places for businesses to sell these things to individuals. Surely there is a legal problem with this. There are no warning about it and people don't seem to know much about that aspect of what they are selling. Some re-upholster in modern, safer materials. Many don't. It is good that people are re-using old furniture but I am now nervous about buying/using such things in my home. Do you have any views or knowledge about this form or business?

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If they are selling to joe public then they are in breach of FFFSR and so are re-upholsterers as they are subject to the regulations.

I think the problem is the regulation which are poorly drafted and difficult to understand by the lay person. They have revised them and produced a draft copy, but that's it, they have not progressed any further. Also I think the enforcement is poor as the Trading Standards is not proactive and adopt a reactive approach. I believe the Amazon was selling upholstered furniture from Germany which did not meet the Regulations but they claimed that they where only agents and not retailer or importer, which was not progressed with.

I think it is up to the individual to insist on furnished furniture complying with the regulations, however I have recently bought sofa and when I talked to the salesperson he agreed that all upholded furniture has to meet the regulations. He also said most people are more interested on the price and not fire safety.

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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.

 

 

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Guest Rory

Hi Tom,

I'm looking for a bit of advice. A school has contacted me regarding some furniture they have which has the display label removed and they cannot see the permanent identification label. In your opinion do you think it would be acceptable if the sprayed the fabric with fire https://www.safelincs.co.uk/fire-retardant-spray/ fire retardant spray and then make the item as sprayed accompanied by a date and signature. Look forward to hearing from you Kind regards

Rory

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There is no way of conforming to Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the home - A Guide to the UK Regulations guide 2 by spraying the furniture you need to find the permanent label.

However treating the furniture to BS 7176: 2007+A1: 2011 Specification for resistance to ignition of upholstered furniture for non-domestic seating by testing composites and if the spray can achieve that, then I think it could be acceptable. It has to achieve a low risk level but all is explained in Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the contract and non-domestic sectors.

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I would like to add these comments to the previous submissions.

When dealing with domestic situations all upholstered furniture should comply with Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the home - A Guide to the UK Regulations guide 2 but when dealing with non-domestic situations like school you should use Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the contract and non-domestic sectors but sometimes the FFFSR is used which is not necessarily wrong.

When dealing with non-domestic premises I would use Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the contract and non-domestic sectors and both use labels to prove the items conform however if you lose the labels then it is very difficult to prove your case.

Any testing uses total destruction testing to prove the covering or filling material meet the necessary standard and having it retested is impossible for obvious reasons. I suppose it is possible to contact the manufacturer and if he/she accepts the furniture as his/her he may provide a replacement label, but very unlikely.

If you propose to use Fire Retardant spray then the manufacturer would have to provide documents that guarantees when applied as instructed the furniture will conform to FFFSR or contract furniture again pretty unlikely.

Replacing labels on upholstered furniture or furnishings is very difficult if not impossible so when refurbishing make sure all upholstered furniture or furnishings have their label securely attached and never buy without labels.

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Guest Jennie

Just a quick fire regs question for summer lets and cushions - I’m planning to make some new cushions for our summer let soda and noticed on a cushion filler/pad site that they sell cushion pads for both domestic and commercial purposes 

As it is a commercial summer let am I not allowed to buy the cushion pads for domestic purposes ?

many thanks for you help in this matter 

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Furniture within chalet hotels and holiday apartments is a grey area. Whilst holiday apartments and houses are specifically covered by the FFFSR, hotels are not and are covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which governs the fire safety of non-domestic premises. Some areas such as holiday camps and chalet hotels straddle both sectors and it is, therefore, difficult to give clear guidance. As a minimum it is recommended that the level of safety should not be less than that required by the Regulations.

It appears it is subject to the FFFSR so check out Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the home - A Guide to the UK Regulations guide 2 page 20 so cushion pads for domestic purposes would be acceptable.

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Guest simonw

Hi Tom,

Looks like my first thread didn't post.... apologies.

I was asking if I import Hair Salon chairs for use in my Hair Salon in the UK, will they need a fire safety label on it, and if it doesn't have one will they get impounded at the port of entry into the UK.

I asked Trading Standards and they said speak to FIRA......I spoke to FIRA and they said we could use the Salon Chairs under Risk Assessment, but I didn't specifically ask about the labelling.

Is the labelling key to getting items through customs at the Ports?

Appreciate your wisdom, Simon.

 

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I am not familiar with import regulations but I do know a company that provided upholstered furniture without labels and claimed they were not responsible under the FFFSR because they were only acting as agents for a manufacturer in Germany. The trading standards took them to task but didn't prosecute.

The labeling simply proves the item of furniture meets the required standard. 

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Guest Louise I

Hi Tom, my mother is going into a nursing home and I want to give her sofa to a friend of mine. The sofa has no labels at all but I have found the full invoice and delivery receipt from "Fishpools" furniture shop in 2009. I don't want to put my friend at any risk. Could you advise me please?

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Having a label doesn't make a sofa fire safe but it is proof that the sofa conforms to the  Furniture-and-furnishings-fire-safety-regulations-19881989-and-1993/ and should be fire safe, also you have proof. The problem is if things go pear-shaped and you are brought to task then you do not have any proof and a delivery receipt would not convince anybody, all it would do is involve the retailer as well. 

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Guest Amy

Hi Tom

Not sure if you still post on here.

However I have a dining table and 6 fabric chairs which I brought from a large, well known furniture store in 2000. I would like to give it to charity however they won't take it as only 1 of the chairs has a permanent label which was glued to the underside of the seat but has fallen off now. (I understand they now have to be stitched in). I still have the label and it indicates there are 6 units the label applies to. They are insisting all the chairs should have an individual label. Is this correct? Is there anything I can do about this? I have visited the store it was brought from and they couldn't help. 

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As the label is named permanent it should be fixed so it will survive to life of the piece or pieces of upholstered furniture but it does not indicate how this can be achieved, stapling is a common method. Permanent label should be fixed to each item, in your case to each chair or in the case of a settee there should be one on the base with one on any detachable cushions.  

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Guest Lizzie

Hello, I am hoping you can help me. I can see Tom that you have been very kindly lending your ear and advice on this forum for some years, which is rather lucky for all us lesser clued up people. I am following a thread that a few other people on here have posted about, so I am sorry if it has been covered before. I have been doing upholstery for some time and am tentatively now thinking about selling my items but keep putting it off due to my concern over fire regs. I regularly have furniture anywhere from early 1900's through to today. with all of these items I remove all coverings back to the frame and start from scratch. I think I am right in saying that if my top fabric is not fire retardant (less the 75% cotton etc) then I need to use a barrier cloth. Normally I would use calico, which I have checked with the supplier is fire retardant but then there is crib 5 calico, which I think is schedule 5? I am confused as to which I need to use. Also I am assuming that the fillings I buy, wadding, polyester are also fire retardant and that  by selling these items it is the responsibility of the seller that they do conform? Lastly (sorry) do I then need to sew a fire label in? Thank you so much for your time, I am going round in circles trying to find this information out.

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