Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group, has affirmed his support for the British Furniture Confederation’s (BFC) campaign to maintain British Flammability Standards. The standards have demonstrated that they save lives and are more rigorous than other European regulations.
The Government is currently reviewing the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988. Whilst the regulations are in need of updating, the BFC has been concerned that the regulations could be subjected to the Red Tape Challenge. Mr McPartland has been granted a meeting to discuss the review with Ms Jo Swinson MP, parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, who is responsible for the regulations.
Paul von der Heyde, chairman of the BFC, says: “We’re keen that any revision should not weaken the current regulations which we believe would be detrimental to UK consumer safety and affect the competitiveness of the UK upholstery and beds sector.”
The Government’s own research estimates that since their introduction, the regulations have saved 54 lives per year – as well as hundreds of injuries – and saved the economy £140m a year.
During a visit to the Furniture Industy Research Association’s test laboratories, Stephen McPartland witnessed a series of fire tests demonstrating the effectiveness of the regulations in preventing fires in furniture. He comments: “Safety within the furniture, beds and furnishings industry is of the utmost importance. Our fire safety regulations save lives and we want to ensure that we continue to manufacture the safest furniture products possible in the UK.”
Phil Reynolds, FIRA’s chief operating officer and BFC board member, who welcomed Stephen McPartland to FIRA’s test facilities adds: “These regulations are essential for saving lives. However, we accept that a revision is needed as many innovations in materials, design, manufacture and test procedures have happened since the original introduction of the regulations in 1988. Many of these innovations are not accounted for in the regulations so more clarity is needed to help the whole supply chain understand what they need to do to provide legal, safe furniture products.”
It is also expected that a revision will lead directly to a reduction in cost to UK manufacturers, retailers and importers, which will ultimately benefit the UK consumer, whilst still protecting their safety.