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Bed testing – part 1

There are many bed components that require flammability testing.

BS 7177:2008+A1:2011 – ‘Specification for resistance to ignition of mattresses, mattress pads, divans and bed bases’ includes the following:

Mattress toppers

The definition of a mattress in this specification is worded in such a way that it includes all items that are slept upon, including mattress pads and mattress toppers. A mattress topper is a product that is often sold to enhance or improve the comfort of an existing mattress. It is usually constructed with a foam or fibre filling or a natural filling and has an outer cover, although some toppers are just blocks of foam without a cover.

A case in the English courts decided that all mattress toppers that included a cover and filling made from foam or fibrous material should comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010), and feather-filled mattress toppers are included. The UK Government holds the view that mattress toppers or mattress pads should be treated in the same way as mattresses. This means that fillings should pass the appropriate ignition tests and the complete item should conform to the specification in BS 7177:2008+A1:2011 at the appropriate level of conformance. BS 7177:2008+A1:2011 has four hazard levels – 'low', 'medium', 'high' and 'very high'. For domestic applications, this usually means that the low hazard category will apply, and the whole item should be both cigarette and match resistant when tested using the EN 597:1994 – 'Furniture – Assessment of the ignitability of mattresses and upholstered bed bases' cigarette test (part 1) and match test (part 2).

Mattress testing

A requirement for the testing of both faces of a mattress has now been included. Both surfaces shall be tested unless they are identical. This is applicable if it is possible to use both faces or sides as the sleeping surface and the ticking (sometimes called a ‘cover’) are different, or if the underlying fillings are different. A bed manufacturer will often provide a winter and a summer surface on the mattress.

The repeat testing of mattresses and the frequency of these tests is now a requirement, where previously it was a recommendation. Compliance with BS 7177 requires that the item carries the correct label.

Headboards

There is often confusion about the flammability requirements for padded headboards. They are to be regarded as upholstered furniture if they contain a cover and a filling, and the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended) apply. Materials from both faces of the headboard must be tested.

Upholstered footboards and upholstered side rails should also meet the regulations. Note that fabric on the reverse side of a headboard (normally facing the wall) is not regarded as a ‘non-visible part’ of the cover, and must be tested as a ‘visible cover’. Likewise, fabric on the inner face of upholstered bed side rails is not regarded as a ‘non-visible part’ of the cover and must be tested as a ‘visible cover’.

Beds for pets

There is a growing market for upholstered beds and seats for pets, including large dogs. Many of these look like miniature pieces of furniture – in fact, they could be used by children or adults as seats, or even beds. If the pet bed or pet cushion is large enough to sit on and could be used on the floor, it may be regarded as a floor cushion. In SATRA’s view, it would therefore have to conform to the cover and filling requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended).

SATRA has already tested some pet beds, and would be pleased to extend this service to others who might need some assurances about fire safety of their products.

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