Eco-chair seeks to reduce the harmful chemicals used in UK furniture by forging connections between the scientific community and industry and calling for a change in the UK legislation.
Fire retardant chemicals are included in UK furniture as the most cost effective way of ensuring compliance with the 1988 Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations. They are almost always used to pass the UK open flame (or match) test in the regulations. However there is significant doubt that they ensure any meaningful fire safety in a real life fire situation and there is scientific evidence that they exacerbate toxic smoke in a fire.
We call on the UK government to bring UK fire safety regulations in line with other countries such as the US, France, Germany and Sweden. Allow for fire safety to be achieved by practical behaviourally targeted fire safety measures, by intelligent product design and by informed choices of sustainable alternatives.
There is a need for a detailed analysis, case by case, of the UK fire investigators reports. Properly examined these should identify behaviours and factors that lead to (a) how fires are started (b) how fires spread (c) smoke generation (d) smoke toxicity.
The Office of National Statistics compiles helpful data that is indicative that there may be changes we could introduce in the UK to minimise fire harm such as:
- fire safety wardens making regular and targeted visits to demographically vulnerable groups (the elderly, those in fuel poverty, those with disabilities and those with mental health issues, those with substance issues and those living alone)
- smoke alarms being integrated into mains electricity circuits in social housing
- improvements in reduced ignition propensity cigarettes
- moving away from the use of foam in washing machines and fridges
- an auto-cut off on low value electronic devices that risk overheating when left charging on beds and sofas
- insurance companies offering financial incentives for having working smoke alarms integrated in home electrical circuits
The detailed analysis of the Fire Investigator reports is needed for better fire protection going forward.
Traditional Upholsterer qualified with the Association of Master Upholsterers. A Journeyman with the Guild of Traditional Upholsterers. Formerly a film lawyer for Warner Bros. Author of an open letter to the government on flame retardant chemicals, an article for the Government's clean air website and a new UK scientific consensus paper on reconciling fire safety with environmental and health impacts of flame retardant chemicals. Co-instigator of a new study measuring the occupational health exposure of upholsterers to flame email@example.com
Upholsterer and Director of the School of Upholstery in Kent. Board Member with the AMUSF.Author of Quick and Easy Upholstery and The Upholsterers Step by Step Handbook.As featured on BBC Saved and Remade.
Ella Wiggans and Claire Birch
The team from purpose-driven marketing agency Good Beans have been supporting Eco-chair with their campaign by distilling a very complex topic and ask into a few web pages. We hope it helps more people to understand the issues and encourages more people to respond.
Both Ella and Claire have strong craft backgrounds and are currently launching Soft Cycle, a sustainable start-up using alternative stuffing materials.