Reducing Furniture Flammability - Design Strategies and Research Tasks


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A presentation by the National Fire Protection Association on reducing furniture flammability by identifying the size and trends of the problem. The presentation identifies potential design strategies and research tasks.

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Reducing Furniture Flammability - Design Strategies and Research Tasks

  1. 1. Reducing Furniture FlammabilityThe Size and Trendsof the Fire Problem and its PartsPointing Toward Design Strategiesand Research TasksKathleen AlmandVice President for ResearchNational Fire Protection AssociationApril 2013
  2. 2. Size of the problem Upholstered furniture(in 2006-2010) as first item ignited OR primary item contributing to fire spread. 610 civilian deaths per year (24% of totalhome fire deaths) 1,120 civilian injuries per year $566 million in direct property damage per year in 8,900 home structure fires per year
  3. 3. Trend in deaths with furniture as firstignited item (down 61%, 1980-84 to 2006-2010)1,22048002004006008001,0001,2001,40025% of home total19% of home total
  4. 4. Size of the problem and trends Summary: Fires and losses have declined sharply, bothin numbers and as shares of the home fireproblem. Decline in numbers means success. Decline in shares probably means a majorcontribution from furniture regulations But upholstered furniture remains the #1burnable item for home fires and losses
  5. 5. Major parts of the problem (2006-2010)FiresCivilianDeathsCivilianInjuriesDirect Damage(in Millions)Lighted tobaccoproduct1,900 (21%) 270 (45%) 320 (29%) $97 (17%)Open flame fromother fire2,200 (25%) 130 (21%) 280 (25%) $138 (24%)Operatingequipment1,500 (17%) 70 (12%) 140 (13%) $81 (14%)Small open flame 1,400 (16%) 60 (10%) 220 (20%) $69 (12%)Ember, ash orother or unclassi-fied hot or smol-dering object1,300 (15%) 60 (10%) 130 (11%) $150 (27%)Unclassified,other or multipleheat source600 (7%) 20 (3%) 30 (3%) $31 (5%)Total 8,900 (100%) 610 (100%) 1,120 (100%) $566 (100%)
  6. 6. Trend in deaths by scenario Decline (1980-84 to 2006-10) in deaths: 67% for cigarette ignitions 61%with ember, ash and other hot orsmoldering heat sources added to cigarettes 73% for small open flame ignitions 45% for arcing or heat from operating equipment For comparison and context, 44% for all homefire deaths and all causes Can’t calculate “other burning item” ignitions for 1980-84. The data elements we use now were not availablethen.
  7. 7. Types of design strategies Strategies to improve fire performance bychanging the furniture: Change covering or filling material Flame-retardant treatment of covering or fillingmaterial Fire barrier systems
  8. 8. Specific research questionsby scenario Cigarette – How much can be done just withcover fabrics or filling materials? Ember, ash or other hot or smoldering object– Do these behave like cigarettes? Operating equipment – Can we get detailson common detailed ignition sequences? Other burning item – How much can bedone with barrier systems? Small open flame – How much can be donewith barrier systems?
  9. 9. What do we need? We need a strategyfor the 5 scenarios thataccount for at least 10% of deaths Each design strategy needs a test-basedstandard based on one or all of following:Prevention effectivenessPeak intensity (rate of heat release). Assumes thatless severe fires mean less fire spread, which meansless fire loss.Time to peak intensity or to room flashover.Assumes that slower fires provide more time forescape and intervention to suppress by occupants orfire department.
  10. 10. What do we need? Each test-based standard needs:Specifications of the test procedureTest conditions for each scenario to be evaluatedEvidence that the test results validly predict real-scale furniture performanceThreshold(s) for acceptance on evaluation scalesEvidence that products passing the test havesignificantly better fire performanceNail down all the related questions
  11. 11. What do we need? That is a lot of research work. We need everybody who can contribute to takeon part of that work. But we need a shared vision of where we aregoing … and an integrated plan so that theparts all contribute to standards that willaddress this fire problem. NFPA and the Fire Protection ResearchFoundation are committed to addressing thisissue and are ready to do our part.
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