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Full-Scale Experiments to Demonstrate Flammability Risk of Residential Upholstered Furniture and Mitigation Using Barrier Fabric



Mauro Zammarano, Matthew S. Hoehler, John R. Shields, Andre L. Thompson, Ickchan Kim, Isaac T. Leventon, Matthew F. Bundy


In this work, we investigated fire growth in a furnished compartment intended to mimic a living room where a couch was the main fuel load. Three TB-117-2013 compliant and commercially available couches were procured. The couches were identical except for the type of cover fabric: two couches used a cotton blend cover and one used a thermoplastic polyester cover. One of the two couches with the cotton blend cover fabric was modified by adding a barrier fabric as a liner between the cover fabric and the couch padding material. The barrier contained only intrinsically fire-resistant fibers without additional, chemically active fire retardants. Three fire tests, one per couch type, were conducted. A throw pillow on the arm of the couch, ignited with a propane flame, acted as an ignition source. Measurements included heat release rate, gas species (O2, CO, CO2), video, heat flux and temperature. The results showed that the cover fabric type on the couch had only a marginal effect on heat release rate, but the addition of the barrier fabric significantly decreased the fire hazard by reducing the fire growth and delaying room flashover from about 6 min to 21 min. Flashover conditions could be reached without involvement of the bottom of the couch when no barrier fabric was present, whereas, the flow and ignition of liquid pyrolyzates underneath the couch played a key role in the fire growth when barrier fabric was included.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 2129
Report Number


Barrier fabric, Residential upholstered furniture, Compartment fire, Flashover, Flexible polyurethane foam


Zammarano, M. , Hoehler, M. , Shields, J. , Thompson, A. , Kim, I. , Leventon, I. and Bundy, M. (2020), Full-Scale Experiments to Demonstrate Flammability Risk of Residential Upholstered Furniture and Mitigation Using Barrier Fabric, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 21, 2024)


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Created December 10, 2020, Updated December 11, 2020