Petrochemical foams used in domestic furniture pose significant risks in a fire. The foam contributes to the speed, spread and severity of domestic fires.
About this policy statement
The majority of domestic furniture in New Zealand is foam-filled.
These foams can spread a fire quickly through a home. They:
- catch fire at relatively low temperatures
- burn quickly and intensely
- emit suffocating poisonous smoke.
This product safety policy statement advises the New Zealand furniture industry of the risks and outlines the government’s expectation that suppliers (importers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers) will work to make sure that the foam-filled furniture products they supply are more fire safe.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) foam-filled furniture fire demonstration
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) demonstrate how intensely foam-filled furniture burns. The petrochemical foams used in most furniture contributes to the speed, spread, severity and survivability of a domestic fire. In less than 2 minutes the fire could be survivable. This is why the New Zealand government is asking the furniture industry to manufacture, source and supply more fire safe furniture.
What can you do as a supplier
We encourage the industry to develop novel solutions to achieve the desired outcomes. Designing around schemes established overseas, such as that in the Californian model, will also mean that the solution could have international market appeal.
Follow other countries' regulations
Many countries and jurisdictions have already regulated foam-filled furniture. Source furniture that complies with these requirements.
- United Kingdom - The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988(external link)
- California – Technical Bulletin 117-2013 [PDF, 280 KB](external link)
- Ireland - S.I. No. 316/1995 - Industrial Research and Standards (Fire Safety) (Domestic Furniture) Order, 1995(external link)
Source safer materials
Source or manufacture furniture made of:
- fabric or inter-liner technologies, or
- fire-retardant foams – but be mindful of the fire-retardant chemicals used in your foam. We don’t want to see a fire hazard being replaced with a chemical hazard.
Communicate with your customers
While you are working toward supplying more fire safe foam-filled furniture, encourage your customers to ensure that they have:
- working smoke alarms, and
- an escape plan.
At home – Fire and Emergency New Zealand Whakaratonga iwi(external link)