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Low Heat Release Upholstered Furniture

Barrier Fabric Compartment Flashover

To reduce the flammability of residential upholstered furniture (RUF), the fire safety community has developed various test methods and mitigation strategies based on the ignition source type: smoldering or open flame. Recent analysis of fire losses indicates that residential upholstered furniture fires are twelve times more deadly than residential fires in general and a majority of the residential upholstered furniture fire causalities occur when the furniture is flaming. Therefore, this research thrust area is aimed at enabling assessment of the fire performance of low heat release upholstered furniture (L-RUF); i.e., furniture with very low heat release and peak heat release rate. Due to concerns about the use of chemical fire retardants in furniture, research to identify and support the development of non-fire retardant technologies that enable low heat release upholstered furniture is being conducted in the NIST Flammability Reduction Group (FRG).

Because the fire community and the existing regulations generally view residential upholstered furniture flammability in terms of ignition type (primarily smoldering ignition), this work also continues to advance decreases in smoldering ignition losses by supporting the use of NIST Standard Reference Material (SRM) cigarettes in standard fire testing and supporting the development of new or improved smoldering test standards.


The Cube Test              

This study proposes a bench-scale fire test using a cone-calorimeter to assess the propensity of a material or an ensemble of materials to produce a pool fire.

(click image to access project page)

Chair Mock-Up Tests

The effectiveness and the failure mechanism of fire barriers in residential upholstered furniture are investigated by flaming tests on upholstered chair mock-ups.

(click image to access project page)

Room-Scale Experiments

These experiments quantify the effect of barrier fabrics on the fire hazard of residential upholstered furniture at room scale in typical furnished compartments.

RUF compartment test 2
(click image to access project page)


Created November 2, 2020, Updated March 17, 2021