Fire Behavior of Upholstered Furniture and Mattresses

Fire Behavior of Upholstered Furniture and Mattresses

Author: John Krasny, William Parker, Vytenis Babrauskas
ISBN 9780815514572 

This book is a collection of the up-to-date science and engineering knowledge in the field of furniture fire flammability. For continuity and perspective, citations to older works are still maintained, even in cases where newer research has brought forth improved methods or better knowledge. Thus, the advancement of the state of the art can be seen in these pages.
In 1985, two of the present authors (Babrauskas and Krasny) published the first monograph devoted to upholstered furniture flammability. This was issued by National Bureau of Standards (now NIST, National Institute of Standards and Technology) as "Fire Behavior of Upholstered Furniture" (NBS Monograph 173). Many new concepts and experimental results have been published since that time. The most comprehensive recent research study in this area has been "Combustion Behavior of Upholstered Furniture" (CBUF) which was sponsored by the European Union. Two of the authors, Babrauskas and Krasny, had the privilege of participating in CBUF. This project, as well as many others, resulted in major improvements in this field. Thus, it became opportune to revise the monograph.
To be most useful to its intended user, this book was reorganized and structured more along the expected lines of enquiry from the user. This involved a major reexamination of the literature, especially coverage of new regulations and standard test methods. The review of regulations, however, is selective. Discussions are focused only on US, UK, and EU activities in this area. While numerous other countries have various regulations affecting aspect of furniture flammability, little if any technical work making reference to such regulations has ever been published in the English language.
In this book, the term upholstered item will sometimes be used to include upholstered furniture as well as upholstered parts of bedding (solid core and innerspring mattresses and upholstered bed frames). In many cases, however, it is appropriate to consider that statements made about chairs or about upholstered furniture also apply to various other types of upholstered items. Bedding, such as blankets, sheets, pillows, etc., are treated separately.

Chapter 1 provides a brief overview of the structure and materials, fire safety design, fire statistics, and standards development.

Chapter 2 discusses some of the fundamentals of fire which affect the fire safety of upholstered furniture. These include smoldering and flaming ignition, flame spread, heat release, inter-item fire spread, room-fire interaction, flashover, smoke, and toxic gases.

Chapter 3 describes the pertinent test methods and regulations for smoldering and flaming ignition, flame spread, heat release rate (HRR), and smoke and toxic gas production for residential, public, and high-risk occupancies.

Chapter 4 addresses smoldering and flaming ignition and includes the historical development and the details of the ignition tests.

Chapter 5 compares results obtained by different test methods, especially bench-scale and full-scale results, and furniture calorimeter and room results.

Chapter 6 covers fire safety design, considering the effects of upholstered item construction and materials, separately for smoldering (cigarette) and flaming ignition. Emphasis is on thermal behavior, flaming or smoldering; the relative rates of smoke and combustion products release, which are, in the first approximation, related to the HRR for flaming fires, are less extensively reviewed.

Chapter 7 briefly discusses room fire zone and field models as they pertain to furniture fires, furniture fire models, and correlation formulas, and a method for predicting the HRR of composites in the Cone calorimeter based on measurements of the individual components.

Chapter 8 discusses fire hazard analysis and describes a method of predicting the available escape time based on the HRR of the burning furniture.

Chapter 9 offers brief conclusions about the current state of knowledge about furniture flammability.
Vytenis Babrauskas
Issaquah, Washington

John Krasny is a longtime fire researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He is a well-known authority on the flammability of textiles, both in clothing and furnishing applications. He is now retired.

Dr. William Parker has degrees in Physics and Mechanical Engineering and has been a long time researcher with the U.S. Navy and subsequently at NIST. He has specialized in the combustion of wood, in fire endurance, heat release, and development of thermophysical test methods. He is also retired.

Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas was the first person to be awarded a Ph.D. in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He subsequently spent 17 years at NIST developing fire test methods and engineering design methods. He currently heads up his fire safety R&D firm, Fire Science & Technology, Inc. He is the author of the 1992 textbook "Heat Release in Fires" and has authored more than 200 papers and reports.