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FIRA and Donating Furniture to Charity


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I phoned The British Heart Foundation to offer them my old sofa to sell for their charity. I was told they could only accept it if it had a fire label - Yes, it does. How old is it? - Well, not quite sure, I got it second-hand twelve years ago so a bit older than that, say 20 years. What condition is it in -  Still good, cushions plump, no tears, fabric a bit worn but still vibrant. In all, better than most I have seen in charity shops. Does it have a batch number on the label - Let me see...no doesn't appear to have one. Then no, we can't accept it or else we would get a fine.

I checked on-line and found this site and then followed directions to FIRA's A Guide To The UK Regulations. In previous jobs I had read through quite a few Rules and Regulations. So I followed this and found that in Section 6.3 bullet point 3, it stated that a batch number should be on the label, and then goes on to emphasize the word "should", stating "products should be assigned Batch/ID numbers for traceability and, if there should be a problem, future product recalls". However, in Section 7.2.2 it goes on to state that retailers only need to keep their records for five years. So I figured that any piece of furniture over five years old, even with batch number, may not be able to be recalled through the then lack of records, and also if it had been passed on or sold to others. I phoned FIRA to check if I was reading this correctly. Later somebody from the FIRA was kind enough to phone back and confirm that I had read this correctly and it was correct for the purpose of charity shops that a batch number was not necessary. I wonder if all charity shops are missing out  by denying furniture, and revenue, just because it does not have a batch number. I did try to relay what I had found to the BHF but I was just given the same speech as before, that it was their policy and they would be given a fine if they sold "any" furniture without a batch number - even on older furniture which would be untraceable due to the lack of records. I did ask them to pass this up through their organization, to check out and change their policy, and help raise more funds, though to date I have not had a reply.

I was wondering if you could also confirm the above from FIRA Regs, and through your influence/connections help all charities to collect more goods for sale and increase their fund raising, as well as preventing as much furniture going to landfill, just through the lack of a batch number?

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I am afraid it is not as easy as that, it’s all about interpretation of the regulations, when it was new and did not have an identifying or batch information then it did not comply with the regulations therefore illegal. Now, does it become legal because five years have passed and most likely the records are no long available?

Your augment is equally compelling and like all legislation it is up to the courts and as the trading standards are unlikely to take it to the courts it is doubtful it will ever have a definitive answer.

You have tried, if their rules prevent it being put up for sale then accept it.

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  • 1 month later...

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. 

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