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Combustion behaviour of upholstered furniture

Objective

The CBUF research programme was set up to develop methods for measuring the burning behaviour of upholstered furniture needed for the implementation of possible EU or national legislation or for European standardisation. Upholstered furniture fires, involving sofas, mattresses, etc., can be very dangerous, particularly in domestic dwellings. Fire statistics show that the majority of European casualties are due to fires involving upholstered furniture.

The objective was to develop large-scale and small-scale test methods for determining the fire behaviour of upholstered furniture together with appropriate procedures for assessing the hazard to people exposed to upholstered furniture fires in rooms. In particular, it was aimed to develop fire test procedures and mathematical fire models that would predict important aspects of a room fire atmosphere based on small scale tests on furniture materials. The test samples were to be selected to represent a large spectrum of burning behaviour from representative European upholstered furniture.
The test procedures according to NT FIRE 032 and ISO 5660 were further developed and validated for their purposes. Standard test procedures were written. The furniture fire models together with design criteria for fire safe furniture was considered to be a powerful tool for estimating fire hazard and for the construction of fire safe furniture. A database in a standard format, FDMS, designed for fire data was created. It contains test data on heat release rate, temperature, heat flux, smoke density and concentrations of gas species such as CO, CO2, HCN, HCl, NOx, and HBr from more than 1500 tests on furniture items and materials. The principle results of the CBUF project were presented at a one-day conference held in Brussels on 27 June 1995 to a large audience from the furniture industry and its suppliers, regulatory authorities, consumer groups, etc. The final report has been published by the laboratories who carried out the research in the form of a book (EUR 16477). It is hoped that the test methods developed in the project will eventually be the basis of appropriate standards that will facilitate trade in the EU and will make an important step towards increased fire safety.
The Furniture Calorimeter (NT FIRE 032) was used for the testing of the full-scale furniture items, while the Cone Calorimeter (ISO 5660) was used for the small-scale testing of furniture components. The conditions occurring in two room scenarios due to the burning of furniture items were predicted from the results of tests in the Furniture Calorimeter using a zone model (CFAST) and a field model (JASMINE). The Furniture Calorimeter test results were in turn predicted from data from Cone Calorimeter tests on composites consisting of various layers of fabric, interliner and padding used in the construction of the furniture. Three different furniture fire models were developed and validated for this purpose. A special model for predicting the Cone Calorimeter (ISO 5660) test data from the individual component materials was developed.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Dansk Brandteknisk Institut
Address
108,Amager Boulevard
2300 København S
Denmark

Participants (8)

BUILDING RESEARCH ESTABLISHMENT LTD
United Kingdom
Address
Bre, B16, Bucknalls Lane
WD2 7JR Garston,watford,herts
FMC Corporation (UK) Ltd
United Kingdom
Address
Tenax Road
M17 1WT Manchester
Furniture Industry Research Association
United Kingdom
Address
Maxwell Road
SG1 2EW Stevenage - Hertfordshire
Interscience Communications Ltd
United Kingdom
Address
24 Quentin Road
SE13 5DF London
LABORATOIRE NATIONAL D'ESSAIS
France
Address
Rue Gaston Boissier 1
75724 Paris
Laboratorio di Studi e Ricerche Sul Fuoco - LSF
Italy
Address
Via Vetreria
22070 Grandate
Staatliche Materialprüfungsanstalt
Germany
Address
Pfaffenwaldring 32
70569 Stuttgart
Universiteit Gent
Belgium
Address
41,Sint-pietersnieuwstraat
9000 Gent