Why are fire labels important?

Posted on the 19th February 2019

If you’ve ever donated an item of upholstered furniture, furnishings or other products containing upholstery to a charity, you’ve most likely been asked the question “does it have its fire safety label attached?”

But what exactly is a fire safety label? How can you find it, and more importantly, how do you know if the label is legally compliant?

What is a fire safety label?

Permanent fire safety labels are legally required on upholstered items and furnishing such as a sofa, with the intention of letting people know that the item complies with British Fire Safety Regulations. Many upholstered items contain foams, fillings and other materials, that could potentially be flammable and because of this, items must have set levels of fire resistance determined through a series of flammability tests.

The fire regulations state that:

  • The fillings inside materials must meet ignition requirements
  • Upholstery and covers must be cigarette and match resistant
  • A permanent label must be fitted to every new item of furniture
  • A display label must be fitted to every new furniture item at the point of sale

Mattresses, divans and bed base fire regulations are covered under a separate British Standard, more information on it can be found in further information and advice at the end of this guide.

To be able to donate your upholstered item to a charity, the permanent fire safety label must be attached – otherwise they will not be able to take it from you. Please keep your fire safety labels attached to your items of furniture for this reason!

How to check if the fire label is legally compliant

Permanent labels can come in two formats and will typically look like the following examples provided by FIRA (Furniture Industry Research Association):

When furniture is sold as a collection of items (such as sofa and two armchairs) the permanent label must be present on each individual item. Permanent labels can also sometimes be incorporated with other labels, such as the care label.

Where to find the fire label

The labels can typically be found sewn in under a cushion, or on the edges of an item. Sometimes the labels can also be found underneath the item too.

Fire labels on mattresses, divans, and bed bases

The fire labels for mattresses, divans and bed bases are covered by a separate piece of legislation – BS 7177. They typically look like the following label:

The label on mattresses and bed bases are usually sewn in and located at the bottom of the item.

If your item does not have a fire label attached

Unfortunately you will not be able to donate your item to charity without the fire label attached. Charities would be breaking the law if they collected it from you and sold the item to another person without the assurance it is safe.

For further information and advice

FIRA, Furniture Flammability Advice for Consumers: https://www.fira.co.uk/product/furniture-flammability-advice-for-consumers

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1988/1324/contents/made

Fire Safety Advice Centre, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993 and 2010: https://www.firesafe.org.uk/furniture-and-furnishings-fire-safety-regulations-19881989-and-1993/

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